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The One Where We Swim with Sea Turtles, Sea Lions, and Penguins: Galapagos Wildlife

When I have been snorkeling before, I generally see a few schools of fish, generally some clownfish and parrotfish and just once I swam with a sea turtle after hours of searching. All of my previous snorkeling experiences pale in comparison to any of the snorkels we did in the Galapagos. On our first shallow snorkel, we hopped in the water and were surrounded by sea turtles. I would just float about 3 ft above the sea turtle getting pushed in and out from the shore by the waves in sync with this beautiful creature. There were endless opportunities to spot the sea turtles and I never wanted to get out of the water. 
Galapagos Sea Lion
Galapagos Sea Lion (Helen Thomson)

Perhaps my favorite creature to swim with were the sea lions. They are unafraid and unapologetically playful. The first time I spotted a sea lion in the water I almost jumped out of my skin. It came rushing past my face at mere inches. It then somersaulted and came back. They would continue this dance of coming closer and swimming away until they would get bored and move on. To be a part of their world for a moment was an incredible feeling. 
Galapagos Penguins
Galapagos Penguins (Helen Thomson)

The Galapagos are so untouched by human existence. The diversity in sea life is truly unique. Beyond sea turtles and sea lions, we saw octopus, eels, lobsters, reef sharks, manta rays and so many different kinds of fish I never knew existed. One of my favorite experiences was swimming in a school of yellow-tail sturgeons. I would dive down and be completely amongst them, swimming over the ocean floor.
Taking in the Wildlife
Taking in the Wildlife (Helen Thomson)

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