(La Paz) A species threatened by global warming, sea lions have found refuge in a bay in the Gulf of California, where their population is growing to the delight of tourists who refrain from disturbing them during the mating season.
The population of California sea lions, also called “sea lions” (or “sea wolves” in Spanish), has risen from 500 to 700 individuals in ten years in the turquoise waters reserve in Los Islotes, estimates Hiram Rosales Nandoca, a researcher in Baja. California Sur Independent State University.
“It is the only settlement whose population has not only maintained stability, but has also slightly increased,” he told AFP.
Otherwise, the total population of “Zalophus californianus” (the name learned) declined 65% between 1991 and 2019, from 45,000 to 15,000 individuals, according to the Graduate Center for Scientific Studies and Education in Ensenada (CICESE).
What are the secrets of the local climate of Los Islots? Mainly restrictions on human activities (fishing and tourism).
Rosales Nanduca says California sea lions have a place to rest and breed here.
Tour operators suspend their activities during the mating season.
Otherwise, visitors may appreciate the gray and ocher sea lions, with large mustaches, which swim well on their backs and stomachs.
Tour operators leave from El Espírito Santo, to the east of La Paz Bay, on a boat that runs along the region’s rocky mountains.
“It was a little scary, but I was less afraid, and it was unbelievable,” says American tourist Esmeralda Fonseca, who shared the experience with a twenty-year-old group of friends.
When they reach adulthood, seals keep their distance from visitors, unlike younger ones who approach tourists.
“She’s interesting, hilarious and funny,” smiles young guide Jacqueline Ojeda.
With a bit of luck, tourists may also spot dolphins, killer whales, and whales, depending on the season.
“The population has increased. I think it is a good thing but we can do better. We have to show a little more responsibility and care,” adds the young guide, Jacqueline.
The archipelago is part of the California Islands Flora and Fauna Protection Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005.
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