CHEK Upside: Nanaimo diver has second sea lion encounter

WatchNanaimo's Tom Hlavac and a friend were diving in the waters off Nanoose Bay when they were greeted by a few unexpected guests. Cole Sorenson has more.

For Nanaimo’s Tom Hlavac, diving has always provided the perfect escape.

“You’re weightless in the water, it’s very relaxing, [and] all you’re thinking about is the scenery around you.”

On a recent dive, Hlavac and a friend were greeted by some unexpected guests, a raft of sea lions.

“We were surprised early in the dive, maybe 10 minutes in, seven minutes in by the first sea lion that passed by,” says Hlavac.

“I thought it was just the one pass but through the rest of the dive we were regularly encountering them,” says Hlavac.

This hasn’t been the retired fisheries officer’s only big encounter with the animals. In February of last year, Hlavac was swarmed by 15 to 20 bear-sized sea lions near Nanoose Bay.

“This number that we had and the number that we had a year ago that was a very large number,” says Hlavac.

“Typically you only encounter that many if you go close to a river where there’s many juveniles hanging out on the rocks.”

While the experience makes for an exciting time, Hlavac wants to remind fellow divers not to seek out similar encounters.

“We’re not looking for them and we’re certainly not encouraging people to repeat this,” says Hlavac.

“In this case, they came looking for us, I think it’s because they’re feeding on herring.’

As for why the sea lions keep seeking out Hlavac and his friend?

“We were probably the most interesting thing that happened to them maybe that hour,” laughs Hlavac.

To see the full encounter, visit Hlavac’s YouTube channel.

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Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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