The waters around the Galápagos Islands, like the islands themselves, are protected wildlife areas. During my visit I had the opportunity to snorkel in these magnificent waters. The scenery and the wildlife were spectacular.
One unexpected surprise was swimming with the sea lions (females only – the territorial bulls are not to be trifled with). When we entered the water, the sea lions were quick to come over and investigate. It was unnerving at first to have these animals swim directly at us then veer away at the last second. We soon realized, however, that this was a signal to play and once we did the same, the female sea lions were quick to join in.
Male sea lions not so sociable. Highly territorial, they constantly skirmish with each other preparing for the day they feel ready to challenge a dominant bull, seize his beach front real estate and all the females that go with it. Males are quick to fight and quick to draw blood by biting each other in the necks. For this reason, males have developed a thick layer of protective fat around their necks (that some liken to a lion's mane).
Aside from sea lions, Galápagos waters offered a wide variety of marine life: Sally Lightfoot crabs, rays, starfish, porpoises, sharks more types of colorful fish than I am able to recount here.
A special thanks to Russ Lesko, one of the guests aboard the Beluga during my visit, who took the underwater photos included above, which are used here with his kind permission.