Karla Villagómez

17 years old

In my free time I like to draw, sing, and listen to music.

Do you view sea lions differently than you did when you first started this project? Why or why not?

At the beginning of the LAVA project, I thought that monitoring sea lions would be the same as previous monitoring I have done – repetitive and without any variation. However, my opinion has changed, because I have learned to identify the characteristics of the sea lions and their reactions to the environment.

In the beginning, I could not distinguish the gender or age of sea lions. After three months and with the help of the students of the University of Pennsylvania, determining the gender and age of sea lions is now second nature to me.

One of the great experiences that moved me was during an observation at Playa Mann, where a tourist took photos of a sea lion. Unexpectedly, this sea lion took the woman’s leg in its mouth but did not bite her. It was surprising that the sea lion went away, and the good thing about the tourist was that she kept calm. This event made me understand that sea lions and human beings have come to live in harmony with each other. With this experience, I have deduced that the new generation of sea lions is friendlier and not afraid of the contact they receive from humans.

In the end, I have come to understand aspects of the daily life of sea lions and their importance. My opinion has changed because I have realized that sea lions have unique personalities, and I did not hold this opinion before the LAVA project.

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