Book review – The Sea Lions of Los Islotes

A love letter to a part of the natural world

Author: Pat
24th November 2022

Sea lions of Los Islotes

Diving books usually fall into one the category of either action adventure, or guide. A new book from Dived Up about sea lions is perhaps the first love letter to an animal specifically in the place where it lives.

‘The Sea Lions of Los Islotes’ by Luke Inman is predominantly a picture book, which introduces the reader to this celebrated dive spot in California. While diving books about a coastline or large geographical region are commonplace, it’s unusual to find one focused solely on such a specific part of the natural world as a sea lion colony on a tiny island.

Delving into the book, it becomes clear the author was inspired by the animals themselves to document their habitat and shine a light into the world of the sea lion. Luke Inman has an impressive CV as a wildlife camera operator, working on big budget productions like Planet Earth 3 and Our Planet for Netflix, in between running his own dive outfit in Mexico. Despite his diving experiences all around the world, the author admits that UNESCO-listed Espiritu Santo island and its sea lions on the outcrop tops the list of his favourite dive destinations. Praise indeed.

Sea lions of Los Islotes

The publisher has wisely made heavy use of the images of the playful sea lions which are beautifully composed and shot, as befits a wildlife photographer. The images are offset with useful info about sea lions, specifically the Californian Sea Lion, of which the Los Islotes colony is made up. There’s info here about identification, their breeding patterns, feeding and behaviours, as well as a summary on how to photograph them effectively – apparently this is not easy, given their high energy levels and overwhelming playfulness.

It’s the personal touches however that betray the genesis of the book. Luke Inman relates the tale of his encounters with a young female pup known as ‘42’ (the animals are tagged). There’s a tender chapter where the author recounts how he bonded with this animal, as trust was built between the two through underwater play and interactions. Sadly, she disappeared for several years… before reappearing one day as a juvenile sea lion and behaving like an old friend! An experience worthy of a Disney movie like The Fox and the Hound.

Sea lions of Los Islotes

The publisher has given the images plenty of space to breathe, forcing the reader to absorb a full picture of the sea lions at hunt, at play, and at rest. The stunning images are occasionally captioned with useful information though, and this isn’t purely coffee table stuff: Luke has included rules on how to behave when you finally arrive at Los Islotes to experience the sea lions for yourself.

It’s a book that doesn’t ask much of the reader, preferring to let the pictures largely speak for themselves. It also conveys one diver’s deep admiration for a species of large marine mammal that isn’t found in these waters and shines a light on their lives. How much better the natural world might be if more people felt compelled to do the same…

The Sea Lions of Los Islotes by Luke Inman is available now direct from Dived Up Publications and other book retailers, priced £25 RRP.

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