By Luke Kenton
This is the incredible moment a curious sea lion leaps for joy inches away from its new kayaker friend’s face, after following him for most of the day.
The adorable pup stalked and splashed the group of kayakers for several miles, off the shore of Stewart Island, New Zealand, during an annual row around the coast.
Less than a mile from land, Barry Hosking and Ed Parker found themselves surrounded by the hyperactive pinniped, who couldn’t stop leaping joyfully around their yellow vessels in a splashing spectacular.
Lurking behind Ed’s kayak and spinning around in circles, suddenly the nosy mammal rides a wave towards Barry, launching itself high over the front of his one-man boat in a remarkable fashion, while even managing to smile for the camera.
Stunned by the encounter, Barry said: “This is undoubtedly an experience I’ll recall for the rest of my life.
“It was such a thrill to experience it first-hand.
“It startled me to begin with, I really didn’t see it coming and was worried the sea lion may hurt itself by landing on my kayak.
“I was amazing by the way he twisted in the air and then dived back down to the side to avoid us.
“It really was a special moment, indeed.”