Dozens of sea lions surround divers recording video for National Geographic.
One of the best known publications in the world, National Geographic, spent time in the waters off Vancouver Island in February videotaping divers encountering dozens of sea lions. “It was part of a National Geographic shoot for an upcoming project. We were part of the shoot and assisted. We’re not allowed to say exactly what it was for but it was very cool, it was a very good experience and we walked away with a ton of stunning video,” said Comox-based underwater videographer Russell Clark, who posts similar videos on his website Seaproof.tv. “The sea lions don’t really bite, they kind of mouth at you. It’s like being surrounded by a herd of giant puppy dogs and they’re very playful and very excited and they want to see what you are. They want to see what this sort of clumsy looking creature is in their ocean and they sort of just play with you a little bit and mouth you very gently,” he added. Two years ago the Department of Fisheries and Oceans looked at stricter rules around how close divers can get to sea lions but no new laws were enacted. Stakeholders like dive shops says when the sea lions are naturally curious and come to you there is little divers can do to avoid them. “Divers and dive operators are very respectful of the sea lions. We enter from a few hundred feet away and they approach us and they’re very curious to do so. I’m not sure that regulations are necessary but I do think a firm understanding and a better education of these marine mammals across the board would be hugely beneficial,” said Clark. The waters around Vancouver Island are becoming known internationally among divers for sea lion opportunities and now the exposure with National Geographic will increase that and likely create even more tourism. “I think it’s great that National Geographic or any publication takes notice of what we have here in British Columbia and the benefits of which are just going to extend to everybody across the board,” Clark told CHEK News.