Isla Granito Sea Lions – Refugio


We anchored near the southern end of Isla Granito while Love and Luck dinghied over, so we could snorkel with the Refugio sea lions.  I’ve got to say the water wasn’t particularly clear and lots of stuff, maybe sea lion excrement was floating through it.  The smell was nauseating, turns out the cause was a couple of dead sea lions decaying on the island.  We did snorkel with the mainly male populations, but there was an edginess to the feel of the snorkel that we haven’t felt elsewhere, perhaps the abundance of males.  The water was so murky that you didn’t see the sea lions until they were really close.

Max didn’t want to get in and went back to the boat while we continued around the island.  Every 10 meters of so around the island we saw small family groups of sea lions with a male or two and several females. We didn’t swim with them but did watch their antics.

When we got to a small bay on the northern end of the island, we discovered many females and juveniles with 4 or so males.  These guys were curious and swam out to see what we were doing.  We decided to snorkel with them.  After a while they came closer to us for a look.

Aren’t these two cute? They soon joined us when we went snorkelling.

They look so zen don’t they?

What was funny was every time you turned to swim back to the dinghy, they would follow you and you would turn around and they would freeze before scattering, it was like the game, ’What’s the Time Mr Wolf?’  They were a little like meercats or prairie dogs and they would pop their heads above the water to see what you were doing.

Ava snorkelled with the sea lions and they followed her back to the dinghy.

We had read that sea lions are more interactive if you tumble, dive and mess around in the water. Ava tested this theory, unsure if it worked but they definitely watched with interest.

We continued around to the western side of the island where we found the youngsters who provided great entertainment.  The big male bull would swim around barking and the youngsters would scatter until he turned his back and then come back to the rock in front of us to watch us.  They are like puppies or young kids, two of them had a piece of rope that they kept playing tug a war with or wrapping around themselves, while the mothers napped, perhaps enjoying the peace from these mischievous pups.

These guys had a piece of rope that they were playing tug a war with and then wrapped it around themselves, they reminded me of kids playing with the paper from their Christmas presents.

We followed the noise of what sounded like a combination of a lamb bleating and a kitten meowing to find a baby sea lion calling to its mother for food.  She reclined back and let him feed while ignoring the cacophony of noise from the colony.

This baby made quite a fuss until mum gave in and fed him/her


After our experience yesterday I was keen to go back and swim with the sea lions in the northern anchorage, this time with some battery on the underwater camera.  Andrew, Ava and I set off to meet Love and Luck in the northern anchorage.  The water was clear, and the sea lions entered the water and swam out near the dinghies while we donned our snorkel.

The northern beach on Isla Granito, where the ratio of males to females was much lower.

Love and Luck went to the colony on the south end of the bay to start with and we went to the north end.  A male occasionally came up and barked at the girls/juveniles if they came too close to us or maybe just to express his dominance.  We got quite close and there was one particularly beautiful grey sea lion who would either stand on her tail or lie on the sand and let us get quite close to her, probably within 30 cm.  She was very photogenic with her long eyelashes accentuating her big eyes and thick black whiskers.

Isn’t she beautiful?

Another day, another video of sea lions.

 Like yesterday as soon as you turned your back or started swimming off, they would all follow you and you would turn around to 20 or 30 sea lions staring at you.

My second favourite sea lion the brown one who was also quite calm and inquisitive.

We went back to the baby anchorage again.  The two particularly charismatic pups that had been playing with the rope yesterday were there in true rebellious form again, playing with the remains of the same piece of rope and briefly scattering when the male appeared.  I had bought a ball with me convinced that they would be interested.  They poked their noses at it a few times, but they seemed more interested in watching us or showing off with the rope.

These guys are definitely mischievous and seem to have no problem finding trouble while looking innocent, somewhat like children.

Andrew was rather insistent that we collect the ball and not leave rubbish, particularly as the kids had done a beach clean up the day before with Love and Luck.  Unfortunately, the big male was not impressed with Andrew’s decision to get closer to get the ball and charged, I jumped across the dinghy onto Andrew’s feet to avoid any chance of him taking a bite out of my ass, which provided much entertainment for everyone.

 As we left to return to our boat there was one very sizeable male sitting alone on a rock.  He was also sporting a very large gouge in his side, maybe he had once been the dominant male and was now on his own.  It was a bit sad to see the lone male, but he did sit up and bark as we passed by.

I’m glad we didn’t swim with this guy, he is enormous!

There are definitely not only grouper abound, but big ones too around Refugio, so much so that Tristan and Andrew had a limit of one each per day. So they had to choose carefully. Tristan has admired the golden grouper and caught a few smaller ones in the past, but his prize catch is the one in the photo below.

Refugio is situated on the northern tip of Isla Angel de la Guarda. Sunsets and sunrises (not that I saw any) transform the colourless mountainous landscape to one with a wide spectrum of colours with varying shades of reds, browns, pinks and even mauve.

The kids kept busy snorkelling, camping on shore, beach cleanups and had another quaran-themed dinner, the theme was ‘cats’ onboard Love and Luck.

It was too hot to venture too far into the interior of the island but we did explore some of the wind and wave worn rock formations.

5 thoughts on “Isla Granito Sea Lions – Refugio

  1. All I can say is that the seal ribs served at Iles de la Madaleine in Nova Scotia were pretty inedible but I guess it’s an acquired taste…


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