Wolves in Valdivia

28 October 2006
3:47 PM

I traveled south to visit Valdivia, Chile with my dad and Brook earlier this week. I was anxious to see a sight my housemate Emily had told me about, so we left to see the local market shortly after arriving. Suddenly, around the river bend, I saw my first wild sea wolf:

Ryan with sea lion

At least that’s what they are called in Spanish—lobos marinos. In English they are better known as sea lions. They did not disappoint. In Valdivia dozens of sea lions hang out at the fish market on the sea shore during the morning, begging for fish scraps. One sea lion was pretty buddy-buddy with a local merchant. He sat at the man’s side like a giant, wet dog, and barked for more food from time to time. When he got too friendly, the man slapped the sea lion on the head. It takes some courage to do that, though, because a local sign warns that sea lions are not pets.

In the afternoon the market closes and the sea lions retire to a local dock where they sleep, play, and fight. You can get pretty close to the animals, though they are rather smelly and you might not want to. Also, they can move surprisingly quickly on land for being sea animals. One group of about ten older students ran away en masse when a sea lion ran towards them. Despite being fat, smelly, and ostensibly lazy, the sea lions were enchanting enough that I watched them for probably a total two hours. And they seem to get along well with each other too:

Sea lions kiss

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