By Sergey Bezberdy
Getting too close to these sea lions will come back to bite you – as one even tries to take a chunk of a diver’s head!
The steller sea lions looked to be extremely threatening to the divers, bearing surprisingly sharp teeth at them and nipping and their hands and heads.
But in fact they were little more than playful puppies, intrigued by the strange people who had come to join them.
As the crowd of creatures continued to circle the divers, they swam past for chin scratches and strokes on their heads.
In an even more playful display, one sea lion managed to photobomb a selfie.
The amazing photos were taken by Russian professor and ‘Team Trip’ travel company owner Mikhail Korostelev near Kekurniy Cape in Kamchatka.
Mikhail, 35, said: “We were playing with the steller sea lions.
“It was pretty scary in the beginning, but then putting your head in the sea lion’s muzzle should be scary.
“But after just five minutes in the water we understood that these animals were just friendly and playful – just like big dogs.
“It was an amazing experience. The only thing that spoiled it slightly was having to adjust my camera focus, which stopped me being able to concentrate fully on these beautiful creatures.”
The steller sea lions are a near threatened species which lives in the northern Pacific.
They are spread as far north at the Gulf of Alaska and the Sea of Okhotsk and as far south as the coast of central California.