Mischievous sea lions bring marine iguana "play toy" to scuba diver

Sea lions are truly the clowns of the ocean. They are playful and mischievous and they are a delight to watch. But like a puppy with a devilish streak, they can be downright naughty at times. These two sea lions constantly competed for attention from scuba divers and when they didn't receive it, they became jealous of the marine iguanas that held the spotlight. Their behavior was amusing to everyone, except perhaps to the marine iguanas themselves. These scuba divers have ventured to the Galapagos Islands to study and record the animals in their natural habitat. One of the most unique creatures in these remote waters is the marine iguana. They have adapted to life in a hostile environment. When the dry season hits, much of the vegetation becomes dormant and inedible. The marine iguana eats the algae and seaweed that grows in the tidal zone. To make the most of this food source, they have adapted to dive into the ocean and dine on submerged plants. They can hold their breath for up to 30 minutes and dive to depths of 35m (110 feet). Their strong tails serve them well as they swim in strong surge and manage well in the waves. The animals are fascinating to researchers and recreational scuba divers, so it was no wonder that these nature enthusiasts were focused on the iguanas instead of the sea lions. Marine iguanas take their feeding times seriously. They must warm up on the rocks before they enter the cold water. They absorb energy from the sun for digestion and also for mobility in the ocean. They are cold-blooded and their time in the surf is limited as they lose heat rapidly. They will have only one chance each day to eat. But the fun-loving sea lions are not serious at all. They saw the scuba divers slip into the ocean and they eagerly swam out from the shore to engage in some play time. Young sea lions are curious by nature and scuba divers are of great interest. The ocean puppies dive and maneuver with great agility and they purposely swim around the divers, inviting them to take part in their acrobatics. They soon realize that the clumsy humans are paying more attention to the iguanas and they started grabbing the lizards by the tail, bringing them over as if they were a gift, or a toy to be passed around. It is fascinating and also impressive that the sea lions would understand the idea of using the iguanas for their games. This seems to require complex thought and a sense of humor that we often attribute only to humans. It is also very interesting that the sea lions are so gentle with the iguanas. They are obvious in their attempt to grip the tails and spines in a way that does not cause an injury. Suggesting that the marine iguanas also understand the lack of intent to harm them, this one doesn't seem too intent on swimming far away from the sea lion. After losing interest in the iguanas, one sea lion tries a playful grab at the elbow of one diver. Another playfully bites at the underwater camera as if they want the diver to film them instead of the rest of the ocean. Sea lions are much like our own loveable dogs, both in looks and in personality. It is no wonder they were called "sea dogs" by early sailors. They are possibly the most loveable of all the ocean's creatures.