At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with journey limits in put worldwide, we released a new sequence — The Globe By means of a Lens — in which photojournalists assistance transport you, just about, to some of our planet’s most wonderful and intriguing areas. This week, Benjamin Lowy shares a assortment of photographs from an underwater shoot off the coastline of Baja.
Nestled off the coast of Baja California Sur, in close proximity to La Paz, lies a string of islands in the Sea of Cortez — such as Isla Espíritu Santo and Isla Partida. Component of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and one particular of Mexico’s primary eco-tourism locations, these islands, together with their bordering reefs and outcrops, are household to innumerable varieties of marine existence.
At the northern suggestion of the chain, just beyond Isla Partida, is a compact craggy outcrop — roughly a quarter mile lengthy — named Los Islotes, or Isla Lobos. Right here, exactly where few persons have access, lives a significant colony of sea lions.
I visited the spot on one particular of my 1st underwater assignments, right after years spent covering war, politics and sports activities. Diving there was a transformational knowledge. By yourself, floating in the open up water, I identified peace between these playful animals, at times referred to as “dogs of the sea.”
Sea lions seriously do feel like canine: They enjoy fetch with rocks, starfish and the occasional bone, and they normally seem enamored by the couple humans who swim with them. They consistently nibbled at my fins, or stared at their reflection in the dome of my underwater digital camera housing.
Swimming close to the circumference of Los Islotes is attainable, however the h2o in some places is fairly shallow, and entry is often limited by tour guides. Youthful adolescent sea lions can be seen playing in the surf and sunbathing on rocks. The bark of dominant males echoes higher than and down below the drinking water as they patrol the sea for threats to the colony and to their rule. Previously mentioned the drinking water, the animals populate just about every rocky outcropping, lying prostrate in the solar.
Each aspect of Los Islotes delivers a distinctive glimpse at the sea lions’ patterns. Huge rocks jut from the seabed on the northern side, obtaining eroded off the island extended in the past. The sea lions frolic again and forth in these underwater road blocks, chasing every single other by way of the rocky crevices.
The southern side of the island is where by the males sit and sunbathe. Territorial and ferocious, these gigantic males can be risky and need to be offered a large berth.
Around the jap idea of the island is a giant arch that rises from the sea. There, divers can drop down to 50 ft, stare up and enjoy the silhouettes of sea lions as they swim from a single facet of the island to the other.
Perhaps most charming of all: Hidden on the southern aspect of the islands, in a tiny nevertheless effortlessly obtainable underwater cave, is a sea lion “nursery.” Compact juveniles dart back again and forth underneath the watchful eye of older females.
Sad to say, even these safeguarded sea lions can’t stay clear of the encroachment of human beings they can sometimes be witnessed with fishing line wrapped all around their necks, which can lead to an infection and demise. And therein lies section of the challenge for regional marine park rangers and experts: how to strike the ideal stability amongst conservation, training and eco-tourism.
In a way, it is similar to the equilibrium I check out to strike myself: My mission as a photographer is to talk what I see and working experience to an audience. My mission as a father is to educate my young children about the planet close to them, and about the conservation of the ecosystem.
A lot of of these images ended up designed with my wife and boys by my aspect. (These waters, following all, are in which my son acquired how to scuba dive beneath the tutelage of a lifelong buddy.) And I have yet to come across a photographic topic that has introduced me more peace and tranquillity than swimming with the sea lions of Los Islotes.