Mexico | A colony of sea lions in rebellion against their extinction

Mexico | A colony of sea lions in rebellion against their extinction
Mexico | A colony of sea lions in rebellion against their extinction

(La Paz) Species threatened by global warming, sea lions have found refuge in a bay in the Gulf of California, where their population is increasing to the delight of tourists who refrain from disturbing them during the mating season.

Posted on October 16, 2021 at 3:00 p.m.

The number of California sea lions, also called “sea lions” (or “sea wolves” in Spanish), has increased from 500 to 700 individuals in ten years in the turquoise waters sanctuary of Los Islotes, estimates Hiram Rosales Nanduca , researcher at Baja California Sur State Autonomous University.

It is the “only colony whose population has not only remained stable, but which has also increased slightly”, he added, questioned by AFP.

Otherwise, the total population of “Zalophus californianus” (their learned name) decreased by 65% ​​between 1991 and 2019, from 45,000 to 15,000 individuals, according to the Higher Center for Scientific Studies and Education in Ensenada ( CICESE).

What are the secrets of the Los Islotes microclimate? Mainly restrictions on human activities (fishing and tourism).

California sea lions have a place to rest and breed here, says Rosales Nanduca.

Tourist operators suspend their activities during the mating season.

Otherwise, visitors may appreciate the gray and ocher colored sea lions, with large whiskers, which swim equally well on their backs and stomachs.

Tour operators depart from Ile Espíritu Santo, to the east of La Paz Bay, aboard a boat that runs along the rocky massifs of the area.

“It’s a little scary, but I was less and less afraid, and it was incredible”, tells AFP an American tourist, Esmeralda Fonseca, who shared the experience with a group of friends about twenty years old.

When they reach adulthood, seals maintain their distance from visitors, unlike younger ones who approach tourists.

“They are interesting, playful and funny,” smiles a young tourist guide, Jacqueline Ojeda.

With a little luck, tourists may also spot dolphins, killer whales and whales, depending on the season.

“The population has increased. I think it’s good but we can do better. We have to show a little more responsibility and care, ”adds Jacqueline the young guide.

The archipelago is part of the Gulf of California Islands Flora and Fauna Protection Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005.

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