Saturday, January 09, 2010


We humans are confused and perplexed by the sea lions who are "missing" from Pier 39 in San Francisco, a major haul-out and tourist attraction since 1989. There were 1,700 lions at Pier 39 in October, 2009 - by Thanksgiving, there were fewer than two dozen. Meanwhile, at Sea Lion Caves, a tourist attraction on the Oregon coast, there are more sea lions than anyone can remember ever seeing. Are these the "missing" San Francisco sea lions?

To find out what's going on, I got in touch with my friend Sammy C. Lion, who is frequently in the Portland area while on fishing trips up the Columbia River. I asked Sammy what's going on, and this is what I found out.

The sea lions are massing off the Oregon coast for a huge demonstration at Bonneville Dam, in the Columbia River, this spring when the salmon migrate upriver. Based partially on their anger over the killings of their relatives by humans with the federal government (part of a court-sanctioned plan to prevent sea lions from eating salmon by killing them), and based partially on inspiration from the movie "Avatar" (Sammy and some friends snuck into an iMax theater recently), the sea lion clans of the eastern Pacific are banding together to put an end to the madness, once and for all. "We're tired of being blamed for the decline of salmon" said Sammy. "We've been following salmon up the Columbia for millennia, and it's never been a problem. We shared them with the humans who lived on the river, and it wasn't until recently that other humans screwed up our river."

Sammy wouldn't tell me any details of the planned demonstration, but I'm guessing that thousands of sea lions will mass at the base of Bonneville in a show of force designed to demonstrate that nature can fight back. "We're all part of a delicate web of life on this Earth," said Sammy, "and it's way past time you humans understand that it doesn't all belong to you."

Sammy promised to keep in touch (I loaned him one of my waterproof cell phones), so I hope to keep you all posted.

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