Guest Blog by Catherine

Having swum with green sea turtles before in Hawaii, I was on a quest during our Galapagos trip to finally swim with sea lions.  Our naturalist guide, Dres, was confident that we’d see plenty of sea lions during our snorkeling adventures.  Like most of the wildlife in the Galapagos, they have had little to fear from human visitors.  That “innocente” as our guides described it in combination with an innate curiosity made human-sea lion interactions almost unavoidable.

Sure enough, during our second snorkel off the beach on Fernandina, a friendly sea lion zipped around me while I snorkeled, circling me while I snapped pictures.  Getting back on the boat, we couldn’t wait to download the pictures from the underwater camera to see what incredible footage we had captured of our amazing encounter.

Sadly, excitement combined with trying not to drown while operating a camera does not make for fantastic photos…

Here is my best shot of the side of our sea lion friend…


The clear winner from the day – an action shot of the sea lion’s armpit…or underflipper (not quite sure what the official term is).


Our next snorkel outing I was determined to remain calm and capture a great shot if I was lucky enough to see more sea lions in the water.  We were snorkeling in deep water off Floreana.  As we jumped off the panga, I stayed to adjust my mask while the rest of the group swam away.  Floating out in the middle of the ocean, a dark blur came up and grabbed my fin.  After I stopped yelling and realized it was a sea lion and not a shark, I turned on my camera and tried to get some good pictures.  He (or she) zipped around me, darting in to get a closer look and them zooming away.

Later that evening, I downloaded the files from my camera to see that, although considerably better than the first attempt, National Geographic would not be calling anytime soon…




Luckily, Olivia took possession of the camera for the remainder of the trip and filmed this playful sea lion using giant sea stars to amuse himself!

If National Geographic is interested, she’ll be available in about four years!


Thank you Catherine, for a most entertaining story!  And thank you Olivia, for saving the day with the wonderful sea lion video!

Click HERE to see what Olivia has to say  

5 replies »

  1. Wonderful post! Even if the still photos weren’t Nat’l Geographic quality they definitely prove you were swimming with these wonderful creatures and the blurriness accestuates the excitement. After thinking that a shark had you by the foot I’m surprised you calmed down enough to get any shots at all. Olivia’s video is so charming. Great to capture that playful moment. I appreciate seeing these, but I’m sure you had no need of photos to remind you of the unforgettable encounters.

  2. Thank you! We were just talking last night about our trip to Animal Kingdom when we were able to tour the vet facility and how much we enjoyed that. I never got to properly thank you for helping Sharon with that special access – thank you! I know it’s something that we will always remember 😀

    • You are very welcome! The vets and techs love it when people show a special interest in what they do. My vet tech friend, Lidia, is retiring soon, so it’s a good thing you went when you did! I have come back a few times to look at the photos again from this Galapagos trip. What memories!

  3. GREAT blog Cath! I laughed at the shark, but only because I would have freaked out too. And I mean freaked out!
    What an awesome video Olivia!

  4. OK everyone,
    I thought it was about time I gave my feedback about what an incredible trip this was to the Galapagos…Best part were my traveling companions…my Sister Claudia, Sharon and Lou who I have known since college for over 40 years and Catherine and Olivia…who were a real treat, fun and both with great senses of humor…I have known Catherine for a very long time as well. I would go anywhere with you guys again…just tell me when. I have submitted Catherine’s “armpit photos” to the National Geographic new species competition and they tell me you have a real chance. Sharon took a great photo of me with my sister and commented that I looked like I was from law enforcement, while Claudia looked like a movie star waiting for someone to ask for her photograph. I loved the tortoises the best because I finally found something that moves slower than me…and I won’t “go there” with the blue boobies. Spectacular trip, people and adventures. More to come. AMY

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