Friday, May 12, 2006

Sea lion runs amok at the Berkeley Marina

The Berkeley Marina, one of the more idyllic spots in the East Bay and where I once embarked on an ill-advised fishing trip, has recently been terrorized by a 1500 pound male sea lion, who seems convinced it's his turf. 1500 pounds is a lot of sea lion -- for comparison, a classic VW Bug tips the scales at about 1786 pounds, though a newer one weighs quite a bit more, especially with a jet engine installed. So an angry male sea lion driving an old Beetle could easily have a combined weight of over 3000 pounds, not something I'd care to see hurtling down the street anytime soon.

Anyway, enough with the weights and measures, there's marauding wildlife on the loose. According to the SF Chronicle, the sea lion's most notorious assault was an attempt to drag the crew member of a fishing boat into the water by biting her leg, after which a tug of war ensued with another crew member who had the presence of mind to grab her arm. Being bitten by a surly sea mammal and then pulled in two directions, especially with 1500 pounds on one side of the equation, really can't have been a lot of fun. I hope she got a tetanus shot afterwards, too; lacking opposable thumbs, sea lions are not known for their oral hygiene.

Since California state law prohibits harassing sea lions, even those prone to harassment themselves, marina folk had to petition the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for permission to fend off the raging pinniped with the admirably humane strategy of spraying him in the face with hoses. Which doesn't sound that bad to me, particularly on a hot day down at the docks, but then I'm not a sea lion. Maybe it's like kryptonite for them.


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