Unexpected guests on board (Puerto Deseado)

In the winter of 2012, I was on board HS Liszt, sailing between Uruguay and Argentina. In the most Southern Port – Puerto Deseado (Argentina) – we arrived after the departure of Magellan Penguins and we could only see lots of birds and few sea lions. However, here I witnessed the most courageous jump ever performed by a sea lion.

The high tide was always bringing a lot of fish inside the port and this was a very important moment for some very funny and playful creatures – the sea lions. They were getting closer to the vessels alongside hoping for a free meal … and they were always getting it. Sometimes they were putting their skills to test and trying to accomplish a more difficult task – jumping on board. This thing happened in the aft station of a fishing vessel that got an unexpected visitor popping out of the water and jumping on deck. I was in the aft station of our vessel, taking photos of some 20-25 seagulls lining up on our mooring ropes when I noticed a sea lion in the water, fighting with two birds over some leftovers thrown from the fishing vessel moored just behind us.

Puerto Deseado - seagulls

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One seaman had come out of a room – which could have been a kitchen – throwing pieces of fish into the water, forcing the sea lion to fight hard for his part. The birds were fighting from a privileged position and pushed the sea lion to take a difficult and serious risk. He pushed himself very hard and jumped on the deck of the fishing vessel in few seconds. I didn’t even have time to move and I could hardly believe my eyes. The 200 kilo mammal was lying in the aft station deck of the small fishing vessel, only one meter away from the kitchen door. The jump must have been at least one meter and a half high and very difficult to accomplish. But the sea lion did it and he looked very proud of himself.

Puerto Deseado - unexpected visitor on board (2)

Puerto Deseado - unexpected visitor on board

Some guys from the fishing vessel came out and started to take photos, feeding him with some very delicious fish in order to keep him occupied.

Puerto Deseado - unexpected visitor on board (3)

Puerto Deseado - unexpected visitor on board (4)

After eating more than 20 pieces of fish, the sea lion was not ready to leave his comfortable and rich place, but he started to shout at another sea lion in the water which looked like ready to jump, too. He was not ready to leave, nor to share his place with anybody. After serving him with lots of fresh fish, the seafarers got really annoyed by the intruder and tried to chase ‘the beast’ out of their vessel. They had to struggle quite a lot before they finally succeeded, but I wasn’t there to watch the final move. I had to go for a while and, when I came back, the aft station of the fishing vessel was empty; no sign of any intruder could be noticed. In the water, few sea lions were wandering around, inspecting the place and the easiest approaches towards it. But, with the vessel being unloaded, the deck started to rise, putting a higher distance between it and the water and making even more difficult for any further jumps, at least for a while.

Puerto Deseado - sealions

Being in the area was not a loss for them anyway, because they all got their treats in fish – thrown from the friendly seamen on board the fishing vessel. They even offered to throw a fish to me, too, but I declined the offer politely, by telling them that I only like shrimps. As the seafood season had not started yet, I had to wait for my treat one more month. And I was very happy with what I got. I understood exactly why the sea lions loved these rich waters of the South Atlantic when I first tasted the shrimps fished out from these waters. I will never forget their special flavour and starting from that moment I always look for them in the European supermarkets – in the frozen fish area.

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