Megan Griesel is a student at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA and completing a Service-Learning combo program in Lima, Peru.
Lima is one of the most densely populated cities in Peru and it is located near the ocean. Pirates and sailors occupied the islands long ago and sailed the same waters. One can view remnants of human footprints on the island while observing an old, crumbling lighthouse as well as formations once occupied by the military.
Right off the coast of Callao are the Palomino Islands, which are home to an abundance of wildlife, like adorable little penguins that scuttle up and down the rock formations and the birds that soar above them. All the while, sea lions bask in the sun and swim in the beautiful blue waters below.
Swimming with Sea Lions
The islands and the waters that surround them are a must-see, but you can actually swim with the sea lions, too. I remember sailing up to the island these friendly creatures call home and being amazed at how many lions were lying on the rocks and leaping into the water. As soon as I jumped into the vast blue sea, a group of them left their rock to meet me. They swam up close to say hello. I had never seen a sea lion before, just as I am sure they hadn’t seen too many humans either. We swam out there with them for a while watching their behaviors and communication. I could have stayed out there with my new friends for hours, but alas it was time to say goodbye. I got back on the boat and a few followed behind to see us off. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Conservation of Habitat
Like any large city, there is pollution in Lima and other problems that have lasting effects on the oceans and ecosystems. Some of the issues affecting the sea life of Peru are over-fishing, direct killing, habitat reduction, degenerative diseases due to pollution, and climate change leading to starvation and the rise of infectious diseases. The oceans and ecosystems are a crucial part of survival–not just for the aquatic life, but also for the planet in general. Since the sea lions live next to one of the most densely populated cities in Peru and the world, they represent to us what is happening with pollution in the world and how we are putting our planet in jeopardy.
Protecting our Friends
If our aquatic friends are nice enough to share their home with us, then we should do all we can to preserve it not only for them but for the future of the world. Luckily there are some simple actions that can be taken to combat these problems, such as reducing the use of plastics and solids that contribute to pollution, supporting rescue initiatives, and allowing sea lions to recover and rest on beaches. If you wish to take a tour to the islands and swim with the sea lions, be sure that the tour is eco-friendly and respects the behavior and nature of the sea lions. There are also volunteer opportunities such as beach day clean up and organizations in Peru such as Orca Peru that work to conserve ecosystems and rescue animals in need. There is a lot we can do to give back to our aquatic friends that share their home with us—especially the friendly sea lions that swam with us in the water and welcomed us to their island.
The world awaits…discover it.