As a child, one of my all-time favorite movies was Andre. If you’ve never seen it, the film is based on a true story that happened in Vancouver, Canada. It tells the tale of Andre, a sea lion who was rescued and adopted by a local family, only to form an incredible bond with the family’s young daughter.
As a kid, I’d watch the movie repeatedly, enamored with the pair’s relationship. I always thought it would be amazing to interact with a sea lion— and now, I’ve recently discovered people have been living my childhood dream.
In the video, captured in Argentina, you see a group of snorkelers having the most incredible encounter with a playful sea lion pup.
The South American sea lion (or sea wolf) is found along the coasts and offshore islands of South America. A permanent colony has established seventeen kilometers south of Puerto Madryn, Argentina, where several local shops offer snorkeling and scuba tours for tourists hoping to interact with the adorable creatures.
Before we continue, it must be noted that sea lions and seals are not the same. Although both are pinnipeds (meaning marine mammals with front and rear flippers), seals are better adapted to water and tend to be smaller in size.
Adult male sea lions can grow over 9 feet in length, weighing in at a whopping 770 pounds.
Although they are highly intelligent and calm creatures, males are extremely territorial, as Sea Lion World explains: “They have been known to attack humans that get too close to them during mating season. This is because of the higher level of hormones in their bodies.”
In the video, the group of snorkelers gets up close and personal with the baby sea lion who kisses one of them on the mouth and nibbles on his goggles.
The video was captured by Julian Bala and shows the friendly baby climbing up on them.
At one point, the pup even pushes his nose up to the camera, trying to check it out.
As you can imagine, the men are in awe of the interaction. As they play, the pup’s pod sits nearby, occasionally bobbing their heads up from the water.
Bala filmed the video in June of 2014, but it’s recently gone viral after re-emerging on the website Reddit.
Julian appears to be an experienced diver if his Facebook page is any indication. His profile shows he lives in the Puerto Madryn area and uploads videos of his sea lion encounters. Since the baby footage was picked up by ViralHog, it’s been viewed over 238,000 times.
According to most sources, this type of interaction isn’t as rare as you’d think. Sea World says baby sea lions are probably the most playful pinnipeds out there. Jayati Vora, another snorkeler, describes her experience with the Puerto Madryn sea lions, writing:
“A few minutes later, we were surrounded by over a dozen chocolate-colored sea lion pups curious about the noisy creatures in their midst.”
“Their heads smooth and round as ostrich eggs popped out of the water one by one, and I gasped and shivered to see them so close.”
Watch the incredible moment below.
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