San Benitos Island – A perfect mix of tropical and temperate diving?? The seal grabbed my fin in it’s mouth!!!

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Kelp Forest by ©Bea Metzger

On my break today I slipped into my wetsuit and clambered aboard the dive skiff along with Hostess Carmen. First Mate Shaun expertly drove us out to a kelp patch located along side San Martin, a small island a few hours off the coast of the Baja California. Only fishermen live on this small island and just when they are fishing. The only permanent residents are a plethora of sea birds and lots of harbor seals. Carmen and I back flipped into the water and we were off. I joined a group of guests, Daniel, Marcel and Erich from Switzerland as they were cruising in and out of the giant kelp fronds. Kelp happens to be one of my favorite things to see while diving, I know its not as rare as mantas or as exciting as Great White Sharks but there is something so beautiful about it as it filters the sun from the surface that I can‚t seem to get sick of it. I was following slowly behind these guests, exploring nooks and crevices when I happened to catch a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and came face to face with the limpid brown eyes of a harbor seal. I was quite startled but the seal nonchalantly finned away and became intensely interested in the blue and yellow fins of Erich and Daniel ahead of me. We continued along and I couldn’t notice how this site was almost a perfect mix of tropical and temperate diving. There were the tropical fish one would see on reefs, colorful wrasse, garibaldi, dusky damselfish and lobsters, but the kelp, seaweed and the sea urchins were reminiscent of Canadian and Alaska waters I spent my summer diving in on the Nautilus Swell.
At one point I was swimming along when I felt my fin get stuck on something. I had been very careful not to disturb the bottom and I thought I was doing a pretty good job of dodging the kelp fronds. I looked back and there were three harbor seals, one had my fin in its mouth and the other two were not too far behind. I turned around very slowly with my fins outstretched. One of the seals took my fin in its fins, I have never seen anything like it! Another one came and nudged my knee, glancing at me all the while as if to ask, “what are you? And what are you doing here?”. The third one nudged my stomach with its nose. I was a little frightened but they were so cute! I was fully aware that I was out of my element and they were in theirs. After closely inspecting me they seemed to loose interest in this awkward creature and darted away, disappearing into the kelp forest. A fantastic dive to the end of a great day!
Tiare Boyes onboard the live aboard, Nautilus Explorer

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