Freediving La Jolla | Sea Lions + Leopard Sharks

The past few weeks since the kids have been back in school I've been able to sneak away a few times for a few hours each... just long enough to get in some quick freedives/snorkels, and the results have been rewarding!

Yesterday I headed for La Jolla Cove for a solo snorkel after hearing how great conditions were Wednesday... and after checking all of the tide charts and seeing that there would be a relatively low surge. When I got there, however, this is what I saw:

I decided to go in anyway, but thought about leaving my camera behind. I'm so glad I didn't, though, because of everything I captured ~ including a snorkeling video of the flotilla of sea lions that I temporarily joined.


When I started swimming back toward the Cove, however, conditions had deteriorated rapidly. You'll see that the sea lions had no problem handling the rough surge, but the few humans entering and exiting the Cove had to time their exit just right. 

These are conditions I would NOT take children around (not even on the beach), nor would I take my friends along with me. Did I mention that there is a great restaurant overlooking the Cove called Brockton Villa that serves fantastic Bloody Marys and oysters on the half shell? When you have made plans to go diving and you pull up and see this, abort mission and go have brunch instead! 

Two weeks ago I met up with some dive friends (via San Diego Hammerheads Meetup group) to do a casual group freedive at the Marine Room/La Jolla Shores, and conditions were much calmer. These ladies have logged literally hundreds more dives than I have and dive for a living, yet they still spend their free time taking advantage of a snorkel among friends. They are real-life mermaids, I think!

We were rewarded with leopard sharks...

And even a baby bat ray - check it out here:

The week prior, however, was the best leopard shark dive I've had in a long time, and honestly I credit being alone for my success. I definitely find that diving/snorkeling alone makes you appear less threatening to both leopard sharks and sea lions, while approaching them in a large group can make them uneasy so they just swim away.

Here, they swam under + around me for what felt like hours.

Thanks for looking and get out there and swim!


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