Because so many live on the island, sea lions have been dubbed “the face of San Cristóbal.” There are mixed opinions amongst locals regarding the presence of the sea lions in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
In the Galápagos, the lives of humans and animals are inextricably intertwined. While animals inhabited the islands years before humans, generations of people have struggled to make a living in an environment hostile to human life, where animals and humans compete for resources.
Fisherman Edwin Buonano says fishermen are in constant contact with sea lions because they are in competition for a common resource. Making a living as a fisherman in the Galápagos is difficult, even more so when attempting to keep sea lions from stealing the day’s catch. Buonano believes that people are often overlooked in the Galápagos because priority is placed on conservation of wildlife.
Fabo Valaquez, a local artist who paints wildlife scenes in the magical realism style, said that he gains inspiration from the sea lions.
“To me they are synonymous with grace, movement and balance,” Valaquez said.
He believes people have a lot to learn from sea lions.
“They have this great camaraderie among them when they play. They share everything in life, so if humans were to share the space a little more, we would all be much better.”
Judy Denkinger, a marine mammal researcher, is concerned with the impact that human presence in the Galápagos has had on the sea lion population.
“For a conservationist, the best situation would be a Galápagos without people, and just leave it the way it is so it could recover and life in the seas could abound. But it's not possible, so we have to find kind of an agreement between humans and wildlife,” Dekinger said.