>WINNER: California Sea Lions
>Santa Barbara Island, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, California, USA
>By Andrew Sallmon
>Santa Barbara Island, the smallest of California's Channel Islands, lies more than 40 miles from the nearest shoreline. A mile out from the island sits a huge arch-and-reef system and one of the most scenic kelp forests in all of California, spanning from 80 feet to the surface. On our safety stop at the end of the dive, five young male California sea lions (Zalophus californianus
) proceeded to turn an otherwise boring five minutes into a circus act with high-speed passes and cavorting. This sea lion briefly stopped and held an inquisitive pose, with clear blue offshore water and tops of kelp in the distant background.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L fisheye lens at 15mm, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Sea & Sea YS-250 strobes (2), Sea & Sea housing; www.seait.com