The problem child of the sea
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
And just like that my sleep-in-a-little-later Sunday morning is interrupted by a loud bark outside. Nope, it is not coming from our adorable Australian Labradoodle, Murphy. It is the unmistakable noise emanating from the pair of sea lions horsing around on the edge of our dock. Although it is commonly referred to as a bark, it sounds more like a high-pitched, out-of-tune trumpet to me. Anyway, they are back. Again. In case you have not heard, there has been a recent population explosion of sea lions along the coast of Southern California.
On the positive side, these mammals are scavengers and their presence is a sign of good water quality. Many children, as well as adults, get a kick out of watching sea lions in action because they can be quite comical without even trying. The goofy physique of these creatures alone is enough to make you laugh out loud: long, white, old man whiskers at the end of a rather small and pointy face; hobbling along (on land) via short little flippers attached to a huge, protruding beer belly that it can never get rid of no matter the level of activity.
To boat owners in Southern California, a sea lion is the problem child they never intended to have. Imagine walking down to the dock on a beautiful, sunny afternoon with the intention of sailing over to the restaurant across the bay for a seaside lunch, and you are stopped dead in your tracks by a putrid, brown pile of crap (literally half-baked into the boat by this time of day) left behind as a little parting gift. Disgusting! Not only that, but the swim step on my neighbor’s boat is hanging on for dear life — no doubt from the sea lions that were piled on the back last night. Maybe I have a little flair for the dramatic on occasion, it is not like a tornado whipped through town and took out an entire sailing vessel. But honestly, they smell like death and are obnoxiously loud.
Many people may not realize that these sea creatures have become quite the nuisance to the boating community. Boat owners are constantly trying to devise new and improved methods to discourage these mammals from trespassing: spraying them with hoses, putting up spike strips on the back of their boats, banging sticks along the dock, chasing them with bright lights at night, and setting up scarecrows or sharks in wetsuits. My personal favorite scare tactic is our first mate, Murphy. She runs up and down the dock searching for a confrontation with as many sea lions as she can find. Napoleon complex might come to mind for some of you right now and that is perfectly understandable given the situation. But it works! Murphy’s bark is definitely worse than her bite. She chases them right back into the water, flippers between their...other flippers? As a matter of fact, just last weekend up in Ventura Harbor, she gave Underdog a run for his money as she heroically rescued several boats from sea lion devastation. Boat owners for miles and miles were clapping appreciatively for Murphy’s good deed, and I could not be prouder of our fur baby than I was in that moment.
If you have a ship and find yourself face-to-face with a sea lion in Southern California, never fear because Murphy is near! Hire Murphy for all of your sea creature troubles and you will not be disappointed.