Thursday, April 20, 2006

Astoria Sea Lions

I know, I know, sea lions are considered to be pests in Astoria. I have heard many a fisherman call them "rats of the sea," and far worse.

I have also heard many tales about "the fish that got away." But around here, the fish (mainly salmon) didn't get away on its own ... the salmon being pulled into the boat by an expectant fisherman was snapped up by a sea lion that popped up out of the water like a jack-in-the-box with jaws.

Sea lions are federally protected because they were once being wiped out, but now they are now proliferating like cockroaches, so the fishermen have no recourse. The salmon are not quite as prolific in their procreation, and now the salmon are threatened.

There was an article in the Daily Astorian today about controlling sea lions that really made me wonder.

Sea Lions

Don't get me wrong. I love the sea lions around here. I love hearing them bark, and love watching them romp and cavort in the river and laze around. And frankly, I don't even like the taste of salmon. But I understand the fishermen's point of view, too ("shoot the bastards"), although I find the idea repellent. I also understand that this has traditionally been an area for salmon, and that the situation for the salmon has become critical.

What concerns me is just WHAT do they plan to do about the sea lions? I've heard tales of them being tagged, then transported very far away, and having them turn up right back here a few weeks later. Sea lions are very bright. Fishermen tell me they are easily as bright as a dog.

Okay, you can't transport them. I sure wouldn't go for shooting them. Then what's left? To that, I have no answer. Personally, I like sea lions more than I like salmon, but that's irrelevant in this ecological tug-of-war, and I don't want to see salmon get exterminated, either.

Hopefully, a way will be found to maintain a balance that will not harm either species.

Astoria Photografpix


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Anonymous said...

Being a fisherman & a wildlife/nature watcher/photographer, I understand this is a sad and all too often scenario when man interferes with the ecological balance of nature. Salmon have declined because of man and his activities, not sea lions. In fact salmon and sea lions have co-existed for thousands of years. It's only since European settlement that MANY species have declined or been eliminated.