Text and Photo by Andy Murch
One of the favourite games played by adolescent Steller sea lions is ‘sneak up on the scuba diver’. This gang of juveniles materialized out of the blue and entertained me to no end before acrobatically scattering in all directions. For most of that dive at Helicopter Rock, one of Race Rocks’ craggy pinnacles, near Victoria, BC, their antics were pure delight. I was bumped, nibbled, dive-bombed, bubble snorted, and generally harassed to the point of flooding my mask I was laughing so hard. At one point a curious youngster stared intently into the dome port of my camera, captivated by the tiny reflected sea lion staring back at him. Then he snapped his head back, barked and spiraled into the depths like a shot down fighter jet. Everyone was having a blast. A stretchy Fusion dry suit allowed me a few contortions and spins of my own amid this flash mob of curious kids. I was snapping shots nonstop, which only made them more daring and playful. But like my own uncontrollable teenagers, they eventually tired of my company and spun away to find another diver to play with. Suddenly solo, I relived some of their antics on my camera’s ‘instant replay’, a marvel of technology, and widely appreciated I soon sensed. Sure enough, my rambunctious companions had returned, peering over my shoulders with the same mischievous glee in their eyes. They’d won again. Sneak up on the scuba diver is their game!
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