In the summer of 2016, The Port expects over two thousand of the pinnipeds to once again take up residence in the East Mooring Basin. And while the sea lions can frequently be found lounging and scrounging along the rock jetties, that is not their preferred destination. California and Steller sea lions alike prefer the comforts of Port of Astoria docks.
And why wouldn’t they? Port docks are much softer than the jagged jetties and make a much more comfortable sunbathing pad. Port docks also rise and fall with the tides so a sea lion that pops up for a respite at low tide will not be inconvenienced by rising waters. Port docks have proven too tempting for the sea lions.
This is where the Port’s struggles begin. While the sea lions present a tourism boon to the local economy and photo opportunities for eager tourists, they are not welcomed by all in the community. Fishing vessel owners at the East Mooring Basin routinely deal with sea lion crowding and stolen catches. Live-aboard mooring tenants and area residents have patiently endured incessant barking and sleepless nights.
So what do we do?
As a public entity, the Port of Astoria is responsible for stewardship of entrusted assets. Because these assets include docks in the East Mooring Basin, it is the Port’s responsibility to reclaim those docks that have been overwhelmed by growing numbers of sea lions.
Over the years, the Port has employed numerous methods to impede, frighten or otherwise deter the sea lions from taking up residence. Ribbons and stakes have been tried. Beach balls had their shot. A fake orca went belly up and ended up a sea lion sofa. Ultimately, these were all unsustainable remedies.
So what is the sustainable and proven remedy to this issue? A local high school welding program…