Swimming With the Sea Lions of Los Islotes


At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with shuttle restrictions in position international, we introduced a brand new sequence — The World Through a Lens — by which photojournalists lend a hand delivery you, just about, to a couple of our planet’s most lovely and intriguing puts. This week, Benjamin Lowy stocks a suite of pictures from an underwater shoot off the coast of Baja.


Nestled off the coast of Baja California Sur, close to La Paz, lies a string of islands in the Sea of Cortez — together with Isla Espíritu Santo and Isla Partida. Part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and one of Mexico’s main eco-tourism locations, those islands, along side their surrounding reefs and outcrops, are house to numerous bureaucracy of marine existence.

At the northern tip of the chain, simply past Isla Partida, is a small craggy outcrop — kind of 1 / 4 mile lengthy — known as Los Islotes, or Isla Lobos. Here, the place few other people have get admission to, lives a big colony of sea lions.

I visited the house on one of my first underwater assignments, after years spent overlaying battle, politics and sports activities. Diving there used to be a transformational revel in. Alone, floating in the open water, I discovered peace amongst those playful animals, from time to time known as “dogs of the sea.”

Sea lions in reality do appear to be canines: They play fetch with rocks, starfish and the occasional bone, and so they frequently appear enamored by means of the few people who swim with them. They repeatedly nibbled at my fins, or stared at their mirrored image in the dome of my underwater digicam housing.

Swimming round the circumference of Los Islotes is conceivable, although the water in some spaces is moderately shallow, and get admission to is frequently limited by means of excursion guides. Young adolescent sea lions will also be observed enjoying in the surf and sunbathing on rocks. The bark of dominant men echoes above and under the water as they patrol the sea for threats to the colony and to their rule. Above the water, the animals populate each rocky outcropping, mendacity prostrate in the solar.

Each facet of Los Islotes provides a distinct take a look at the sea lions’ conduct. Massive rocks jut from the seabed on the northern facet, having eroded off the island way back. The sea lions frolic backward and forward in those underwater stumbling blocks, chasing each and every different thru the rocky crevices.

The southern facet of the island is the place the men sit down and sunbathe. Territorial and ferocious, those gigantic men will also be bad and will have to be given a large berth.

Near the jap tip of the island is a huge arch that rises from the sea. There, divers can drop right down to 50 toes, stare up and watch the silhouettes of sea lions as they swim from one facet of the island to the different.

Perhaps maximum captivating of all: Hidden on the southern facet of the islands, inside of a small but simply out there underwater cave, is a sea lion “nursery.” Small juveniles dart backward and forward below the watchful eye of older women folk.

Unfortunately, even those safe sea lions can’t keep away from the encroachment of people; they may be able to every so often be observed with fishing line wrapped round their necks, which may end up in an infection and loss of life. And therein lies section of the problem for native marine park rangers and scientists: tips on how to strike the proper stability between conservation, schooling and eco-tourism.

In some way, it’s very similar to the stability I attempt to strike myself: My project as a photographer is to keep in touch what I see and revel in to an target audience. My project as a father is to coach my youngsters about the international round them, and about the conservation of the atmosphere.

Many of those pictures have been made with my spouse and boys by means of my facet. (These waters, in spite of everything, are the place my son realized tips on how to scuba dive below the tutelage of a lifelong good friend.) And I’ve but to discover a photographic matter that has introduced me extra peace and tranquillity than swimming with the sea lions of Los Islotes.


Benjamin Lowy is an American photojournalist based totally in New York City. You can practice his paintings on Instagram and Twitter.

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