With our motor ship we arrive at a place where our guide suspects larger colonies of seals and sea lions. At the landing sites and the beach we only get with our small dinghy.
The sea lions are in the surf hardly distinguishable from the dark lava stones. Fur seals are smaller than the Seeloewen and originate from Antarctic coastal areas. For centuries they were hunted for their precious, dense fur, so they are much rarer than the Seeloewen. Not too long ago, the animals were literally slaughtered. Today the population has recovered. About 40,000 animals now live in Galápagos.
In the midday sun, the seals take a nap, but not without first having oiled well … of course, with a thick layer of sand. Our guide tries to contact the seals. The animals are curious and playful.
With the larger sea lions however a larger distance is announced. You never know how they are in a good mood. To avoid the risk of overheating, the animals usually stay on rocky coast, where they find plenty of shady berths between the lava pipes. Between the females, it often comes to quarrels about the safest and shadiest berths for themselves and their young. The boy is nursed by his mother for up to two years. Nevertheless, the female can give birth again after one year. But most of them have to starve to death because only the strongest females are able to feed two cubs. The second boy represents a biological reserve, and is raised only when the firstborn dies.
The contact seems to succeed, at least our guide is accepted and not attacked. But we do not dare to imitate him and stay at a short distance on photo distance. However, we should get even closer contact with the seals at the subsequent snorkeling and free-tachgang. In the water they make a much better figure than on land. They swim around us from all directions, from the side, from above and below. They bump into each other and challenge us to play. That was an experience of a special kind.
The pack leader always has a watchful eye ready. The interplay of life and death is always within reach. Never before have we felt this stronger than in those places where man has not intervened with his organizations. In the brief, silent moments of contemplation one becomes aware of the finitude of one’s own being.