West Coast sea lion population growing 5% per year
A big rebound in the sea lion population along the West Coast in recent years has created a constant battle to wrangle the protected animals. They're smart and fun to watch from a safe distance, but also noisy, smelly and proving to be a headache for some coastal marinas.
"It's a free zoo kind of, just don't pet 'em!" observed Dennis Craig of Olympia while he watched a pier at Washington's Westport marina nearly sink under the weight of dozens of burly bulls jostling and snoozing in the sun.
"You notice when the charters come in, they'll swing wide just so people can get a closer look because, like I say, it's entertaining," Craig said.
The flip side of these flippered fish fiends can be seen in the mounting bill to the marina, including the cost of busted docks, broken electric stanchions and lost business.
"Nearly all of our net revenue was used to repair damage caused by sea lions this year, taking those funds away from infrastructure improvements and replacements that are critical to the marina facility and our users," said Westport Marina business manager Molly Bold in an email.
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