The Port of Astoria in Oregon is facing a strange problem where hundreds of sea lions have swarmed the docks there, blocking boat owners from reaching their vessels. At the moment, the town is trying a novel approach to dealing with their problem by bringing in a model orca for chasing away the marine mammals.
Terry Buzzard is the owner of Island Marine Cruises in Bellingham, Washington, and he offered to lend his life-sized replica of a killer whale to the town in an effort to scare away the sea lions.
“I don’t have any idea in the world if it’ll work or even should work. It’s just kind of a fun, crazy thing to do. If it doesn’t look like an orca whale and they call our bluff, then I guess they’ll sit there and thumb their noses at us,” Buzzard said.
Estimations for the Port of Astoria by the officials state that there are as many as 2300 sea lions living in the docks, which is 1000 more animals than the number seen last year, making it 12 times the population recorded in 2010. One of the docks there has already been closed to the public due to the massive creatures in the area. Some of them are actually standing up to humans and charge at them if they are in the way.
Port officials have tried other techniques of removing the animals from the docks which includes electrified pads, that only has a limited effects on the marine mammals. The animals have already broken down gangways, and it is also believed that the sea lions would destroy any fences made in an attempt to keep them contained.
Sea lion infestations are also being seen in other areas of Oregon, in addition to Astoria, including the Port of Newport.
“I don’t have time to make a count, but I would estimate there are well over 1,500 or more. I’m not an expert, but we would normally see probably 300 to 400. They’re definitely multiplying,” Kevin Bryant, harbormaster for the Port of Newport, said.
Biologists are not sure of the reason that the sea lions have landed on the docks on the coast of Oregon. Some say that due to a lack of food offshore, the animals have followed the people of smelt heading upstream. Another group believes that warming temperatures in the ocean are driving the animals in the north direction.
What may be the world’s first scaresealion will be transported to the Port of Astoria in June.