By Alexander Greensmith
GANG OF curious sea lions clamour around a couple of surprised divers – just in time for a group selfie.
Charming images show a raft of jolly sea lions surrounding a scuba-clad photographer. The pictures reveal the swarm nuzzling with the diver, a selfie with an infinite amount of the mammals, and a sea lion trying to nibble a camera
Slow-motion scenes show an impossible-to-count number of sea lions outnumbering the divers. In one self-recorded shot, a sea lion’s flipper playfully photobombs the videographer’s shot.
The heart-melting footage was captured at Norris Rocks, off Vancouver Island, Canada by photographer Steve Woods (37) from Vancouver, Canada.
The photographer, who is originally from Moseley, Birmingham, UK used a GOPRO and a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II attached to Subal housing for the shoot.
“The most surprising thing about the footage was just the sheer feeling of being in that situation with all these animals outnumbering you. It is great to be able to get the footage but really it is the feeling of being in awe of the situation that you’re in that is the best part about of the job,” Steve said.
“It is incredible to be in a position in where there are way more wild animals than humans. And they are so amazing with you. It is like sitting in a ball pit full of puppies.
“This part of British Columbia is unique as I can’t think of any other ecosystem in the world where wild animals will interact with you on such a large scale without being prompted with bait or food or anything else to entice them.
“It really is amazing they will just flock to you. They just want to play. They’re just kind of fooling around while we are in the water.
“But they are so careful it is unbelievable. When you put your hand in their mouth, they will just softly nibble at it. They are so careful not to hurt you.
“The younger sea lions are more boisterous and quick. While the bigger ones, which can weigh up to 2,600-pounds are more careful and slower but will always interact on their own terms.”
Sea lion attacks on humans are rare but despite this, humans continue to hunt them.
Sea lion meat in Canada is often eaten by indigenous communities.
Commercial seal and sea lion hunting only takes place in one of five nations worldwide; Canada joins Namibia, Norway, Russia and Greenland.
“It breaks my heart to hear or see people killing them or injuring them with fireworks for coming into contact with the fisheries,” said Steve.
“Because they are so charismatic and so interactive – just like your puppy at home.
“I only wish the people who are behind this cull idea could come with us and see just what wonderful animals they are.
“While it is important to understand that everyone’s point is valid, there has to be another way to culling these animals because you wouldn’t cull your pets at home, you wouldn’t cull your dogs.”