Share story

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.”