Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sea lion in San Diego

The photo at this link is hilarious,, of a sea lion pup being retrieved from underneath a police car, where he had spent the past four hours. The picture has inspired some wit among the viewers -- check out the comments. Also the video of a sea lion making its way across a balcony.

Sea lions are different critters from elephant seals, and one of the differences is in their ability to move. Elephant seals have to drag their tail ends, because they are not able to rotate their back flippers the way sea lions can. You can see the trail left by this adult male as he made his way down the beach. Sea lions and other eared seals can turn their hind flippers under their bodies, so that they can 'walk' on land. They can be trained to do tricks, like this one playing soccer, posted on

Nevertheless, elephant seals are more mobile than observers first think, looking at them lying on the beach like washed up logs. They can cover the territory between them and a challenger in the blink of an eye. It's a matter of motivation, If a bull wants to defend his harem, he's on it.

One of the visitors at Piedras Blancas shared with me a story he told few people, because people didn't believe him and made fun of him. He was a dairy farmer from British Columbia, near a river. He found a sea lion in his barn one day.
The excited dogs drew his attention to it. He observed it, as it made its way out of the barn and eventually back into the river.

He'd told a few people, and they'd laughed at him. As we talked, his excitement about the seals got stronger than his embarassment and he told me the story. I assured him I believed him, because I knew of other incidents.

I wrote a whole manuscript about a sea lion who found her way far into Morro Bay State Park a few years ago. The rescuers christened her Pita, for Pain in the Ass, because catching her was so difficult. Sea lions in unusual places are often sick or injured, but not her. She put up a vigorous fight. She was captured on South Bay Boulevard, the only road into the park, which had to be closed to traffic for the event.

Because such captures often involved sea lions that won't survive, they are surrounded with weighty dread. Pita's fighting spirit was encouraging to onlookers, if not to those attempting to get him confined to an animal carrier. She was transported to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito and settled in for the night, to be evaluated the next morning.

She was fine when the attendants arrived the next day -- so was the pup she had given birth to during the night. Mother and baby did well at the center and were eventually relocated to San Miguel Island.

I still love that story. Perhaps I should revive it and and see if I can find a publisher for it now.

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