In Mexico, Eco Concerns Where Sea Lions Romp
Something big zoomed by in my peripheral vision. I whipped around for a better look, but whatever it was had disappeared into the permanent twilight of the underwater world. Was it a gigantic grouper? A small whale?
Either was possible, 30 feet below the surface of the Sea of Cortez, which separates the Baja California peninsula from the Mexican mainland. But the shape and high velocity of the apparition were strange. I couldn’t place it until another one appeared, then another, and soon more than a dozen, twisting and turning around us seven divers, coming eye-to-eye close before speeding away: sea lions.
I should have figured it out sooner; I knew we were diving near a colony of the pinnipeds. But while I’d seen any number of sea lions above the water line, lolling in the sun or awkwardly dragging their blubbery bodies from rock to rock, I hadn’t imagined them transformed into these svelte underwater missiles, each one larger, stronger and faster than a human.
I was scuba diving in Mexico in the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, a 27.5-square-mile ecosystem with an unusual history and an uncertain future. At least 226 fish species live in the park, and it is home to the only living hard coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. But environmentalists fear that a major resort development could significantly alter this delicate fringe of Baja, both above ground and underwater.
From my piece in today’s New York Times travel section, continued here: http://nyti.ms/17rpbOF