Sea Lion Encounters

On our travels along the Oregon coast, the sea lion seemed to become our spirit animal. From the place we stayed in Newport, we had this fantastic view. (I can’t even seem to get away from bridges on my day off!)

Newport view

It also came with some unexpected sound effects. We could hear sea lions barking in the distance. The first night it was charming. The second night it was intriguing. By the third night (especially at around 3 am) it was kind of annoying. I don’t know how area residents stand it. But I suppose it’s kind of like living next to train tracks. After a while, you must tune the noise out, if only to preserve your own sanity. But at least trains are a little less random.

We discovered the source of the noise one evening while dining at the Clearwater Restaurant. Right outside their window you could look at one of Newport’s piers, which had been made especially for the sea lions. We got to watch a baby nursing on the center dock. It was great fun. Dinner and a show.

Sea Lion3

Incidentally, if you’re ever in Newport, I highly recommend this restaurant. The atmosphere is delightful and the food is excellent. I had the Dungeness crab and garlic noodle, and dear husband had the coconut curry stew with its halibut, rock cod, salmon, shrimp, clams, and scallops. Both were good enough to make you want to slap your mama.

But as usual, I digress.

On another day, we went south along the coast to visit the Sea Lion Caves. I’d been there once before, but it was in September, and the cave was deserted. I had high hopes this time. And there were two in there.

Sea Lion

I thought I was going to have to settle for this picture of the statue out front.

Sea Lion2

But in fact, there were about 50 sea lions out on the cliff! We had great fun watching them. I have no idea how they get up there. Some sea lions get up to 1500 pounds. But we watched one attempting to climb up. He’d wait for the stormy sea to kind of wash him halfway up the cliff, and we’d be rooting for him, but then the next wave would knock him back into the ocean again. This happened over and over, and was exhausting to watch. No wonder the successful ones were mostly sound asleep, and showing absolutely no inclination to move.

Sea Lion1

On the day we left the coast, we stopped by the Newport pier again, in hopes of seeing the baby sea lion, but it was not there. Instead, we saw this wounded sea lion in the middle of a pile of others. I don’t know if it was a gun shot wound or it had been gigged by an irritated fisherman, or bitten by one of its rivals, but the wound looked deep.

Sea Lion Wounded Arrow

There were other observers on the dock, but none of them seemed particularly moved to take action, so I thought, “If not me, who?”

I went over to the informational sign and saw a number for the Newport Sea Lion Docks Foundation. (Which, incidentally, is a cause well worth supporting, so I hope you will.) I spoke to a very nice gentleman who asked me if I was calling about the sea lion with the plastic around its neck and I said no. That one was nowhere to be seen. (Humans suck.)

Apparently I was the first to call about this particular wound. He said he’d have the state biologist go out and take a look. I texted him a picture. I was glad that someone was taking this seriously, so that I could continue my vacation without feeling anxious. He said the biologist will definitely intervene if the wound is serious. What a relief.

Now, whenever I see a sea lion, I’ll think fondly of my glorious holiday on the Oregon coast, and smile.

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Exploring the Oregon Coast Aquarium

I have a confession to make. I absolutely love aquariums. Zoos, too, but aquariums even more. I’m most fascinated by animals that are nothing at all like me. Mammals? Pffft. I can imagine what it’s like to be another type of mammal. But I can’t wrap my brain around the life of an anemone or a sea cucumber.

So when I saw signs for the Oregon Coast Aquarium during my recent vacation, I knew I’d have to go. And it’s a delightful place.

As you can see from the pictures below, I was particularly fascinated with the touch pool in the Rocky Shores Gallery. I never realized that anemone feel kind of sticky. I won’t even get into what sea slugs feel like.

I got quite the shock at the harbor seal and sea lion exhibit. I was practically pressing my nose against the glass in hopes of seeing one swim by, when I looked down, and right on the window ledge, separated from me by only a thin sheet of Plexiglas, was what I thought was a rock… until it moved. What a delight!

I also would have overlooked the sneaky octopus if someone hadn’t pointed him out to me. I couldn’t have overlooked the biggest living crab I’d ever seen in my life, or the playful otters, or the many sharks, though.

And in the aviary I got to see my very first puffin. It made me smile. These are the buffoons of the bird world. That, and I like to say, “puffin”.

All in all, it was a delightful afternoon. If you ever find yourself in Newport, Oregon, I highly recommend this aquarium. And check out their Aquari-cam! Fun!

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