Friday, February 25, 2011

Sea Lion Escapade

sealionP2180384 We finally got out of the marina and did an engine test outside of the La Paz bay. Things looked good, so we headed back to the anchorage for the night.  We got a good group together to do one last taco eat at Rancho Viejo. Tony & Connie from Sage were anchored right next to us, so they came along. Bill & I met them first in Bahia de los Muertos. They are hanging in La Paz till its time to head to Hawaii and points west. Steve and Lulu on Siempre Sabado are always up for an RV dinner. They are hanging in La Paz till its time to head to the north Sea of Cortez for the summer to avoid hurricanes – I’m sure they will be blessed with warmth there. Steve and Maria on Saben came in from Marina Palmira. Owen, Carrie, Tamsyn and Griffyn all now relocated from Seattle and settling into their new life on their boat Madrona (renamed from Que Tal) also joined in. The kids ended up at different ends of the table and seemed to really enjoy the new company.

Next day we headed out to the islands just off of La Paz, first stop Isla Espritu Santo. We wanted to do some exploring there and to wait for a good wind to head across the Sea to Puerto Vallarta. On the way over we ran over a fisherman's drift line and wrapped it in our prop. Ooops.

propP2160379Spent 30 minutes in the water cutting the lines free. Too bad for the fisherman, good deal for the fish, turtles, dolphins, etc. 

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A beach walk at super low-tide in San Gabriel Bay on Espiritu Santo.

We anchored in Bahia San Gabriel, sharing one last dinner with Saben. This will be the last shared anchorage with Steve and Maria (and Angel) for awhile. They are headed north up the Sea and planning to haul out in San Carlos for the summertime hot season. They say they’ll probably do a little travelling to Alaska and visit family and friends in Washington this summer.

esprituIMG_6686Adios Steve and Maria, buen viaje!

Next we headed north to the beautiful anchorage of Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida, which is separated from Espritu Santo by a cut created by a breach in the crater of an ancient volcano. We anchored here so we could visit Isla Isoleta which is a little spec of an island, really just a couple of big rocks, just to the north that is a major California sea-lion rookery. We joined up with Frank on Solitude and headed to the island the next day. The sea lions here are visited daily by pangas bringing tourists from La Paz and they are quite friendly. It was little intimidating jumping in with these guys. However, since tons of people do it, we figured why not.  As soon as Chris jumped in, after saying she really didn’t think it was a great idea because these are after all wild animals, one of the playful critters came over and grabbed onto a swim fin. He quickly let go, did a turn around, grabbed it seriously and started tugging. It didn’t look like he was going to let go. As Chris noted, “I was screaming like a little girl!”. He finally let go and promptly went over to Frank who was coming to the rescue and nipped his hand.

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A little blood, but nothing that sharks would be interested in.

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Trying to look at the camera while swimming away.

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Sea Lions doing their rookery thing. It was too early for mating season, when the males get really pushy, although Frank and I did watch two adult males chest-butting underwater. We didn’t want to get in the middle of that! Adult males are at least 9 years old and are 6 to 10 feet long and weigh in at up to 1,100 lbs. Sea lions live 15 to 20 years old. Swimming with these guys was pretty cool!

sealionP2180382 Frank keeping a good eye on a big guy close by.

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How do you tell a Sea Lion from a Seal? Sea Lions have small ears, that you can see in this picture, seals don’t.

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This juvenile is just playing with this dead fish. He would grab it, throw it up in the water and watch it sink. Then nudge it around and go for another round of ‘push the fishy’.

sealionP2180392 More play live fishies in the background. There were huge schools of small silver (sardine like) fish swimming all around.

sealionP2180401 Also some other reef fish like this Giant Hawkfish (I think) hiding from the Sea Lions with local camouflage. That’s their name, they aren’t really giant, this one was about 12-16” long. Also saw a big grouper, and some really big sergeant majors and yellow-tailed surgeon fish.

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Hiking up the trail and looking back at the anchorage in Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida. This photo was taken next to the dry well that was dug by the naturalist Joseph Krutch in 1959 while he camped here working on his descriptions of the flora and fauna of Baja. Although a day trip from La Paz, the Isla Espiritu Santo archipelago is a national park and feels completely wild and remote.

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A Paper Nautilus shell we found in Ensenada Grande, posing on the dodger as sunset approaches.

Paul & Chris

1 comment:

  1. Seals vs sea lions: also, besides the ear flaps, seals have very short, unhinged front flippers. They swim with their rear flippers and use the fronts for steering. Sea lions do just the opposite. The so-called "trained seals" we saw as kids were actually sea lions. Seals can't sit up or walk on their front flippers like sea lions can.

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