Swimming with the Sea Lions

It was late, and the kids wouldn’t settle in bed. They were over-tired after spending the day playing in the water at Lincoln National Park. My husband, Jarrad, picked up the phone as it sounded a message. He read out,

“You are booked in to swim with the sea lions tomorrow morning. Meet at the boat at 8am.”

I choked on my cup of tea and spluttered, “EIGHT! We have to be up and dressed and ready AND somewhere by EIGHT?”

We made it just on the dot of eight. There was only one other passenger on the boat as we pulled out of Port Lincoln, heading for the wilderness reserve of Hopkins Island that was 90 minutes away.

We were warned that we would have to stay on the boat or in the water, not on the island itself. There were three reasons … firstly it’s a wilderness reserve so it’s forbidden, secondly the sea lions are playful in the water but aggressive on land, but thirdly and most importantly due to it’s isolation a sub-species of tiger snakes have evolved there that is bigger and more aggressive than normal ones. That one had me convinced that I’d be happy to stay in the water.

“The water’s a lot calmer today,” I said to the lady working on the boat, who’d also been on the swim with the tuna tour. Jarrad was chatting to the skipper at the helm of the boat when a wave caught the front of the boat. My cup of tea splashed everywhere … Jarrad’s head hit the roof, then he was horizontal on the floor. The kids laughed uncontrollably at seeing their father on the floor. A glare silenced them.

Jarrad complained, “I really need to go to the toilet, but I won’t be able to stand up, and I don’t want to sit down because that’s what girls do.” I was glad I skipped breakfast because whatever was in my stomach now was about to come up.

We saw Hopkins Island and the sea lions in front of us just as I thought my stomach couldn’t have lasted much longer. First we noticed a dark shape swimming next to the boat. Then it jumped up out of the water, then quickly disappeared back under the water and out of sight. Another swam alongside the first.

We noticed the sea lions sitting on the beach. There were quite a lot of them, sitting in groups and sunbaking. “They often come down in to the water to play with the people if they notice us,” the skipper told us.

We were grateful for the wetsuits as we slipped into the cold water. As the stronger swimmer, Jarrad swam with Edmund till I could comfortably stand and took him. Lucy stayed with Edmund and I sometimes to feel the comfort of being able to stand, and other times our little six year old went back to her dad.

 

I played with Edmund in the water, and he was delighted every time another wave hit him. The sea lions on the beach saw us in the shallows of the water and came passed us to play with the others in the deeper water. Edmund thought it was fantastic as the sea lions neared him.

I’m not sure who was more excited though … Edmund with his toddler-ish joy at just seeing the animals so close to him … or Peter, Susan and Lucy swimming and playing with the beautiful, graceful animals.

The sea lions flipped and looped under water, watching each person and swimming around them. They really did live up to their reputation of being the puppy dogs of the sea.

“We were all swimming around in the water searching out for the sea lions. I had quite a few come and circle around, but they seemed to go after a little bit. Probably because I couldn’t copy them and flip and summersault in the water, and because I had to have my head above a lot of the time. Dad had his head down almost all the time, and he had many more around him.”

Peter, aged 10

Peter played in the water with all the energy and enthusiasm of a ten-year-old boy. Momentarily puffed, he swam back to the boat to sit on the platform for a rest. He felt a tug on his flippers as he dangled his feet in the water. Looking down, he saw a sea lion nibbling and tugging on it.

On the way back, the kids were all warming up drinking the hot chocolate that had been provided, nine-year-old Susan reflected, “I don’t know why sea lions are called sea lions. They don’t look much like lions, and they aren’t fierce as a lion, either.”

Even better was that the boat followed close to the coats of Lincoln National Park on the way back so we go to see some amazing coast from the water.

As we were walking from the boat to the car, Lucy exclaimed, “Look! A sea lion followed us back!”

Sure enough, there was one lone sea lion swimming around the anchored boats. Maybe the sea lions enjoyed enjoyed the morning as much as the kids.

family travel blog Australia homeschool kids

family travel blog Australia homeschool kids

family travel blog Australia homeschool kids

family travel blog Australia homeschool kids

family travel blog Australia homeschool kidsfamily travel blog Australia homeschool kids

family travel blog Australia homeschool kids

family travel blog Australia homeschool kids

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Travelling Australia in a caravan since 2009 with our four children aged 4, 7, 10, and 11. We are a family living on the road. Stopping to work in rural and remote towns as we need more money, we love this lifestyle. The four kids are homeschooled as we work our way slowly around Australia.

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About Amy and Jarrad

Travelling Australia in a caravan since 2009 with our four children aged 4, 7, 10, and 11. We are a family living on the road.
Stopping to work in rural and remote towns as we need more money, we love this lifestyle. The four kids are homeschooled as we work our way slowly around Australia.

Comments

  1. Love those photos! Looks like you had an amazing time – I’d love to do something like that.

  2. That first sea lion photo is priceless.

  3. long and funny mum.:) but do not worry. but do remember i found the sea lions!:o are you bye peter:D

    • admin
      Twitter: livinontheroad
      says:

      No, I am not surprized darling. I remember that you were the first to see the sea lions. I also remember you having a good time.

      Love you darling

      (Get back to writing your blog post)

  4. Jessica
    Twitter: scasesandscups
    says:

    That looks so fantastic!

  5. Lisa Wood
    Twitter: newlifeonroad
    says:

    That sure looks amazing – were you guys worried about being that close to the sea lions? I love how you got to be part of their environment and swim with nature. Gosh kids dont get this sitting in class rooms

    Thank you for sharing your boat ride, how hubby fell over, and how you were glad you didnt have breakfast before going on the boat!

    Cheers
    Lisa

    • admin
      Twitter: livinontheroad
      says:

      We didn’t even think about being scared – though we were told that they could be aggressive on land, but just playful in the water.

      The kids retain it so much better because it’s in context. I wonder how much they’d retain of this if it was in a book instead?

      Glad you enjoyed the story about the boat trip … it was such a large part of the day. I don’t think we’ll change Livin On The Road to Livin On The Water ever.

      Kind regards,
      Amy

  6. That looks so cool!
    Adventures With Ben recently posted..Skydiving Sunshine CoastMy Profile

  7. Lisa
    Twitter: GoneWithFamily
    says:

    What an amazing experience! My husband and daughter went swimming with sea lions at a marine facility in St. Thomas and had a great time but this looks so much better with the sea lions in their natural habitat.
    Lisa recently posted..Playing in FountainsMy Profile

    • admin
      Twitter: livinontheroad
      says:

      It’s such a special opportunity to be in the water with such beautiful animals. Your daughter and husband must have had a great time, too.

  8. WOW!! how cool is that?! what a GREAT day – and photos!!

  9. Uh-oh…I think I have something new to add to my bucket list! Looks like a wonderful experience to share with your children. :D

    • admin
      Twitter: livinontheroad
      says:

      Uh-oh…I think I have something new to add to my bucket list! Looks like a wonderful experience to share with your children.

  10. I’m not sure I can think of anything to say other than “Wow that looks freakin amazing”. I remember being in NZ in a small boat watching sea lions swim when I was a teen but to swim with them … what a wonderful experience for your children.
    Tracy recently posted..Holiday Fun at Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, FloridaMy Profile

    • admin
      Twitter: livinontheroad
      says:

      Definitely is I’m shuddering at the thought of a small boat though … the 50 foot boat we went on was hard enough!

  11. Cute animal pictures – can’t beat ‘em!

  12. Truly an experience worth losing sleep over!

  13. That really does look like a fantastic experience. I can see why the kids loved it — I would too! The sea lions look absolutely adorable.

  14. Hi,

    I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. http://queensincanada.wordpress.com/

    All the best, Jackie queen

  15. Hey

    These photos are just amazing. You must have enjoyed it thoroughly..

  16. That looks like an amazing beautiful experience, I must add it to the list, we hope to go across the Nullabor from Vic next year so hopefully we can swim with the Sea Lions in SA. Love your blog, Australia is an amazing country to travel.

  17. Amazing pics. Must have been a ‘one-in-a-million’ experience!

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  1. [...] out this post of their on swimming with the sea lions….am I jealous??? You know [...]

  2. [...] Living on the Road The Page family has been homeschooling their kids, starting when the kids were (9, 8, 5, and 2), and have been traveling around Australia in a caravan for a year already and have no plans to stop. Great blog about visiting the cities of Sydney, Broome, and articles like “Swimming with the Sea Lions“. [...]

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