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    Posted April 20, 2014 by
    Kansas City, Missouri
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Wildlife photography

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    "Train the Human" -- Snorkeling with Galapagos Sea Lions


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     DeSpirit visited the Galapagos Islands back in June 2013. During a snorkeling trip, he had the opportunity to swim with sea lions off the island of San Cristobal.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    "Train the Human"


    On our first date back in October of 2009, I ask Angela, "If there was a special place in the world that you would want to see, explore and experience, where would it be?" Without hesitation, she said, "The Galapagos Islands".


    Well, I stored that little tidbit of information away and when it came time to plan our honeymoon (we were just married in May of 2013), knowing that both of us are very adventurous explorers of the world and that neither of us had yet been to The Galapagos Islands, it was the perfect choice. Ten days on the 100-foot "Ocean Spray" catamaran with only 14 other guests, discovering the wondrous mysteries of the lands that Charles Darwin explored for his book, "The Origin of the Species".


    After spending two days celebrating in Quito, Ecuador, we boarded our flight to the Galapagos on June 8, 2013. Only an hour after getting settled on our ship, we pulled into a cove on the northern edge of the Island of San Cristobal and it was time for our first snorkel of the trip.


    Ironically, just days before we left on this journey of a lifetime, I had purchased a new GoPro Hero 3 camera and had literally never used one or had any experience with how it worked. But no time to let a little lack of experience using a new video camera stop me from diving right in, pushing the start button, pointing a camera with no view finder into unknown waters. As a professional photographer, it was very strange to be taking video with no idea what I might be getting.


    But very soon after getting comfortable in the water that was a bit cold (approximately 70 deg. F or 21 deg. C), the fabulous show began. At first just a few Galapagos sea lions would swim by, but after awhile, it was a full on playground for 10 or 12 sea lions.


    The original goal was to just capture some unique video of underwater life with my new camera, but we were quickly transformed into a world where the sea lions rule and we human’s are just another plaything.


    We had been told that the sea lions would be curious and potentially engage us in some of their games. Sometimes the sea lions would mimic your movements underwater by spinning, turning and diving right next to you.


    Little did we know that one of their favorite games would be "train the human". At approximately 1:35 and again at 3:40 into the video, you might notice one of the sea lions with what appears to be an orange ball in it's mouth. That is actually a sea urchin and it became the "ball" that they would eventually be dropped in front of Angela (the snorkeler with the pink striped wetsuit, pink fins, pink mask and pink gloves) and hope that she would dive down to "catch & retrieve the ball". Due to the extra buoyancy with a full wetsuit, it was a difficult task to dive very deep to "play the game", but never the less, the sea lions would dive down, retrieve the "ball" and bring it back to Angela for another try.


    Ultimately, as many as ten sea lions joined in the playful exchange with Angela. It was one of those surreal moments in life that would have only been a memory had I not taken the chance to experiment with a new video camera.


    When ask how she would describe the experience, Angela said, "Simply magical...!!!"


    All video images were taken by Doug Mackenzie, Owner of Mackenzie Images -- mackenzie-images.com

    Twitter: @mackenzieimages
    You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDR1lbS32-5CO-OgL_xmXig

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