Exciting news guys! I’m writing a mini-book! I’m deep in the process, cranking out plenty of new material, and it will be completed in a week or two. For now, enjoy an excerpt from the book (I’m also still looking for a title–any suggestions?). This part delves right into more of the Mexico study abroad, weeks after the camping trip I’ve been focusing on lately:
After the final presentation was given, after the final paper was turned in, we loaded backpacks and sleeping bags onto a dive boat in the hotel’s marina and headed north as the sun set right over islands in the distance.
Such a phenomenal sunset requires over-the-top modeling
We snorkeled once that night, and I slept in my swimsuit in a bed below deck, struggling to fall asleep as first my feet jammed into the wall and then my head hit the headboard, over and over again.
We were already on the move when I woke up the next morning, and soon we were snorkeling with a small colony of sea lions.
During lunch, I was presented with a piece of cake—my roomie had remembered it was my birthday! I hadn’t mentioned it for a few days since I didn’t want it to overshadow the trip. Salwa, one of the local students, taught me a bit more about Mexican tradition when she shoved the cake in my face. The resulting picture is one of the worst photos of me ever taken. Let’s not post it.
A few hours later, we had snorkeled twice around Los Islotes, one of the most popular islands with a sea lion colony in the Sea.
A male watching over his territory and females during breeding season–it’s terrifying!
The problem with mask tunnel vision: you don’t know a large male is sneaking up behind you until BAM! there he is. We weren’t supposed to swim too close, but this guy was calm since he chose to approach me. Aggravated sea lions will sometimes dart at a swimmer and end up within inches of his or her mask, bare their teeth, and blow warning bubbles.
Me and a baby!!! OMG so cute.
Snoozin’ in the sun. Sea lions can also regulate their body temperature in the water by sticking up a single fin as a sun catcher and float in the shallows like that.
The boat turned around and began its journey back to the marina a few hours away. We sprawled across the forward deck, perfecting tans before heading back to the US in two days. There was always at least one of us on the very front of the boat with a pair of binoculars, looking for spurts of mist on the horizon, a sign of whales.
When someone spied splashes in the distance, my professor Ben determined it was jumping manta rays. As we got closer, however, the number of splashes grew exponentially and a small yacht appeared in the middle, apparently an attractant. The captain steered that way, and before too long, a few of the splashers had moved over to our bow. They were dolphins! The captain kept us at a speed to keep a bit of a bow wave and more and more dolphins began surrounding the boat. Dozens crisscrossed under the bow, taking turns popping out into the air before arcing back down to the depths. Hundreds more spread out far into the distance; my three professors estimated we had chanced upon a pod of about 1,500.
For every dolphin jumping, there’s at least ten chilling below the surface! This was also at the tail end of the experience; they had tired of us and we didn’t chase them.
It was honestly a challenge to put down the camera and enjoy the experience–there are so many times when I’ve been too busy trying to adjust the shutter speed or get a good angle instead of enjoying the experience. Alas, I didn’t get as many good shots as I would have liked, but I do have some great memories. My whole class gathered on the bow, leaning over the railing and darting from side to side. It was perhaps the most exciting birthday present ever–the crew members hadn’t seen a pod this large in years.
I’m still not sure what species they were. There wasn’t a consensus on the boat. Some thought they were common dolphins; others thought they were Pacific white-sided dolphins. To me, they don’t match online images of either of those species.
Check out the fish on the side of this dolphin! I’m not sure if it’s a cleaning remora or a parasite, but it sure is hanging on at top speed.
The group began dispersing, perhaps chasing schools of fish elsewhere. However, we were left smiling for hours.