I’ve been photographing California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) for about 20 years and still do not have the perfect image of one. They are a lot of fun to dive with, but are notoriously fickle about staying put and posing for the camera. In addition, the fur of a seal lion can at once absorb all the light my strobes put out and yet can reflect sunlight and produce hot spots in the image. So, I’ll just have to continue diving with them and trying to make more sea lion photographs. This photo is one of my favorites. It was taken at Isla Afuera at the south end of Guadalupe Island in the mid-90s on one of our 10-day exploratory diving trips. We dove all around the island, finding new underwater sites that had probably never been seen before except by fish, turtles and sharks. This was some years before the shark diving that has made the island so popular now. California sea lions and Guadalupe fur seals were our nearly-constant companions on these dives. Here, an inquisitive juvenile lines up alongside Lorna McMurray. This image was used as the frontispiece for the excellent National Geographic book “Wild Ocean” by Dr. Sylvia Earle and Henry Wolcott.
California sea lion and diver consider each other, underwater in the clear ocean water of Guadalupe Island.
Image ID: 02251
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico