Sea lion attacks on humans on the rise

When on safari in Tanzania a couple of years ago, I was fortunate to get within a few metres of a pair of lions. A giant male and a menacing looking lioness. At the time I was sitting in a pretty sturdy Land Rover and was in the capable hands of an experienced guide.  When you see these big predators up close you get a real sense of how easy it would be to get in a situation where you couldn’t really do much about it if the beast decided it wanted a piece of you.  Luckily, all the lions were interested in were lazing around in the sun and posing for pictures. 

Lions

The happy couple

Last week, our adventures landed us in a rather splendid part of the world called Yellow Point on Vancouver Island in Canada. A small rocky peninsula jutting out into the Strait of Georgia, the point has been owned by a family who run what can only be described as an adult holiday camp based around a large central lodge and some fantastic wooden cabins dotted along a mile or so of some of the best coastline in the world.

Yellowpoint
Yellow point Lodge as viewed from the sea

We arrived on a perfect day, the sea looked like a mirror and the sun was out in a bright blue sky. We sorted out our room and legged it down to the lodge to hire a two-berth kayak. Having never really been in one before it took a bit of getting used to but we managed to vaguely coordinate ourselves and progress was made around the little inlets and coves.

Kayak
Kayaking in the Strait of Georgia

After a half hour or so we spotted what we thought was a seal popping its head up to draw breath. I decided to head for it and investigate as you do. Nich wasn’t wasn’t too keen but bravely joined in.  Upon our arrival at said spot in the sea, up popped the ‘seal’, only it was at least 6 feet long, had massive teeth and proceeded to start snorting and flapping around. It then looked straight at me, grunted and then dived toward and under the kayak. Needless to say, Nich made use of her waterproofs and started paddling out of there. I did the same but couldn’t help but laugh my head off that we were running away from one of those cute cuddly things that you see all doe-eyed at the zoo, balancing a ball on its nose. I might have mentioned earlier in the blog about Nich’s new fear of the squirrel. Well, now it’s seals. What next, hamsters? 

Sealion1
Seal pops up for air

Sealion2

Shortly before ‘contact’

Anyway, we paddled back to shore and a quick look in the library at the lodge confirmed that the six foot seal with sharp teeth was in fact a sea lion. Further investigation revealed that sea lion attacks on humans are in fact on the increase and that the US Navy even train them to detain scuba divers (although I’m not so sure about this).  I suppose that if you’re going to call something a sea lion that it should at least live up to its reputation and eat a few people here and there. Perhaps we were lucky.

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