The week before a certain British Columbia sea lion went viral on the Internet, a big guy caused a few heads to turn at Seattle’s Shilshole Bay Marina when it hauled out on a finger pier for a rest.
Near the end of M Dock — coincidentally, just across from a now-empty slip where a boat burned and sank in April — this California sea lion just hung around for a few hours and watched the world go by. The sea lion’s size and the bump on the forehead indicates this is a male.
It doesn’t happen often at Shilshole, but it’s not uncommon for sea lions to hoist themselves onto docks to bask in the sun. A famous case in point is Pier 39 in San Francisco, where a sea lion colony took over an entire marina dock in 1989, with their population peaking at 1,700 by 2009.
Here’s a page of information on sea lions, including safe viewing tips, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Of particular interest is this information from NOAA: “All marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972… It is against federal law to harass or otherwise take marine mammals, including disrupting important behavioral patterns such as resting, nursing, feeding, or breeding. Pursuing, tormenting, or annoying any marine mammal, or attempting to do so, may be considered an act of harassment. Violators of the Marine Mammal Protection Act may be subject to a civil penalty of as much as $10,000 for each violation; or criminal prosecution with a fine of as much as $100,000 or imprisonment for as much as one year, or both.”