DIVE’s writer John Boyle is spending three months in Mexico, diving and filming for National Geographic. He tells us the stories from behind the camera. Here he falls in love with sea lions…
Although it’s a bumpy two-hour boat ride from La Paz, the sea lion colony on Espiritu Santo is a popular tourist attraction, drawing boatloads of life-jacketed snorkellers and hordes of divers every day. To get pristine footage without people in, I’d chartered my own boat and left the marina well before dawn. Imagine my irritation, then, as just as I was getting in the water another boat arrived and despite having the whole colony to choose from, decided to tie up to our stern. My anger turned to amazement as I recognised the occupant of the other boat as my friend, photographer Michael Aw, who had a similar plan! It’s amazing how small our diving world is, and how often you bump into friends at the most obscure locations.
Underwater, I wanted a shot of sea lions appearing out of a vast cloud of small silver fish, which would part like a halo around them. The sea lions were there in force, but unfortunately there was no cloud of fish.
But the sea lions quickly became my all-time favourite sea creatures. The pups had just been weaned and were making their first explorations of the undersea world, carefully watched by their mothers, with the larger males patrolling in the background. The playful pups were like little puppies. Anything and everything fascinated them: they rolled around, play fighting with each other; picked up rocks, took them to the surface and dropped them to watch them spiral down; played with divers, tugging on fins and nibbling at face masks – one even found a discarded snorkel and swam with it in its mouth, chased by its playmates. When they got tired, they pulled themselves onto the rocks to suckle and sleep in the sun.
To read more about John's filming adventures in Mexico, download the April 2014 issue of DIVE