FULLY BOOKED. Bookings with Scuba Travel. Contact Caroline@scubatravel.com

There cannot be a more enjoyable underwater experience than diving with playful seals and sealions. If there is a downside, it is that these marine mammals tend to favour cooler water meaning you need a drysuit – not so in Mexico. The attraction of La Paz in October is twofold. It is the time when this year’s hyperactive, new sealion pups first start swimming and these cute, milk-fuelled missiles just want to play, play, play. Secondly, it is when the  waters of the Sea Of Cortez reach their warmest, meaning a 3mm wetsuit is all the insulation you need.

An adult (female) California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) bursts through a school of baitfish in the shallows. Los Isotes, La Paz, Mexico. Sea of Cortez, East Pacific Ocean.

The sealions will be the main photographic focus of this 7 night, three dive a day trip. Alex says, “while we plan to spend most of our time at the classic Los Islotes site, offering as much diving freedom as possible, we will hit a few other locations, in search of different shots. A new dive in the area is the mobula ray (mini-manta) night dive, which we will do twice. The dive operators hang powerful lights into the ocean, which attract a blizzard of zooplankton, and these in turn attract a swirling vortex of rays.”

A group of adult (female) California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) bask in the sun at the surface. La Paz, Mexico. Sea of Cortez, East Pacific Ocean.

Other characteristic subjects of the area are schools of baitfish, giant hawkfish, tube and sailfin blennies, king angelfish and whale sharks. Alex adds “it is mainly a wide angle trip, but you might want to bring a macro lens for when you have taken a few thousand sealion pictures! The whale sharks are resident in La Paz bay and sightings are very reliable. However, the high density of plankton are challenging for photography, so these won’t be a high priority.

A signal blenny (Emblemaria hypacanthus) displays its showy dorsal fin as it extends out of its tube home. La Paz, Mexico. Sea Of Cortez, East Pacific Ocean.

The workshop will cover sealion photography, with detailed techniques and tips for working with these subjects. Alex will give a couple of talks early in the week and then offer plenty of advice out on the boats. Image reviews will be an important part of the workshop, as we all share ideas and images to capture diverse portfolio of sealion pictures.

A young California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) playing with a starfish, inside an underwater cave. The pups will pick up a variety of objects (such as starfish, lumps of coral, shells and feathers) and carry them to the surface, drop them and then chase them to the seabed. Los Isotes, La Paz, Mexico. Sea of Cortez, East Pacific Ocean.

Alex says, “I can’t wait to get back to this fabulous destination. The interactions from my last visit are still so fresh. The sealion pups pluck a variety of critters from the seabed to use as toys, but favourites seem to be shells and starfish, which are used to play drop and chase. I remember one pup race up and drop its starfish right in front of my facemask. Asking me to join its game. And who can resist those big brown eyes? I hope you will join me too.”

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THE PACKAGE

The trip is available as a London to London package, or La Paz only, for those wishing to arrange their own flights. Group size is 14 photographers.

London-London. 28th October to 6th November 2017 – £3595 GBP

La Paz – La Paz 29th October to 5th November 2017 – £2645 GBP

Staying at La Concha Beach Resort. Diving with the Cortez Club. Lunch on the boat is included. Extras include drinks, other meals, departure tax, nitrox and the park fee $7 USD per day. You can see a selection of Alex’s photos from this destination here.

A deposit of £800 GBP is required to hold your place. For further information see (Scuba Travel website) and please contact Scuba Travel (Caroline@scubatravel.com) for reservations quoting the trip reference TRP 31315.

A long exposure of a school of green jacks (Caranx caballus). La Paz, Mexico. Gulf of California, Sea of Cortez, East Pacific Ocean.