Baby sea lions are one of the world's most adorable creatures. In the Galapagos Islands, sea lions are plentiful on beaches and shorelines. The inhabitants of these islands have learned to live in harmony with the animals, being careful not to interfere in any manner. They avoid interaction with the wildlife whenever possible and expect that the tourists will do the same. But the baby sea lions refuse to stick to this policy and they are known for being playful, and even mischievous at times. Although clumsy and awkward on land, they are tremendously agile in the water. They are capable of putting distance between themselves and a human with a few flaps of their powerful fins if they chose. But they are also capable of circling people and darting in and out, inviting them to play. If they approach you in the surf, there is often no avoiding them and swimmers are delighted to take advantage to the rare exception to the rules. These two young sea lions are much too young to venture into deep water to hunt. They would be easy prey for sharks and other large predators. They spend their days in the safety of the sheltered beach and wait for their mothers to return with food and milk. They will be reliant on their mother for up to three years. Although they will hunt with her when they are bigger, they spend their day napping and playing at this stage. Waiting for mom can be boring and young sea lions regard any new object, or person with curiosity. Kristy realized that these two sea lions were circling her and that they were repeatedly diving and spinning as they were close to her. They also stopped and stared at her, blowing bubbles out of their noses in steady streams. They were obviously waiting to see if she would do the same. When she rolled and dove, the babies became excited and swam in fast circles around her. She laughed and let out bubbles of her own. As if to tell her that she was not doing it right, one of the sea lions swam up to her face and let out a long, steady stream of bubbles, watching her as he did so. This form of sea lion play seemed much like a human toddler saying “can you do what I can do”. Having such an invitation to interact with wild animals on their terms is a delightful and magical experience!
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