Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sea Lions

Last year we saw sea lions emerging from fog covered waters just off Heron Rocks on Hornby Island, and we have known for years that they hang out off the south east tip of Helliwell Park on Hornby. I've always thought one needed to be in a boat, or in a pretty remote location to see these wonderful, noisy, smelly critters.

But 10 days ago I drove down the Island Highway and practically went off the road when I passed the Fanny Bay warf and realized that the booms attached to the warf were covered with them. The next day Cori & I went out in the morning to see if they were still there, and indeed there were about a hundred of them (literally) sunning themselves on the booms and waiting for the herring to arrive. Bark, bark, ark, bark, growl, ark, bark - they're incredibly loud! The day after that Dad, Evelyn, Cori & I went to check them out again, and there were maybe half that many, it being not such a great morning for sunbathing. I have developed considerable sympathy for the herring - their arrival here to spawn is such a sign of spring and renewal, but that's partly because a whole array of predators arrive with them. We're particularly aware of the eagles, these guys, and the human fishers.

We got a good look at sea lion "rafting", a version of the back float, flippers in the air, sun on belly, usually side by side with a friend or two. This looks kind of like a partially submerged, inverted tree root, until the flippers move or a head emerges. In this photo there is one alone, and two together.

On Sunday we were at our neighbour's across the road, and saw what first looked like a gaggle of ducks, but then we realized that it was a 'raft' of sea lions - just off 'our' beach!

When Cori came home tonight she heard what she first thought was a dog in some distress, but then realized that it was a sea lion, and then heard the full chorus. It sounds like they are on the log booms that are a couple of kilometers south of us. We will check it out in the morning.

ps. the boat in this photo is bringing in a harvest of Fanny Bay oysters.