Sea Lion

February 18, 2009

I slept with a Sea Lion the other night.

Named her/him SeaMuse- (The Marine Mammal Center appointed me the right!), though I imagined the pinniped was a female.

It was an unusual day in Sea Ranch, on the northern wild coast of California: an injured male juvenile pelican sauntered past my reading deck overlooking the ocean. It had a broken wing. Do they ever dread not flying again? They must feel vulnerable on land, but what of the ecstacy of flight? Do they know? They are quite large up close.
A whale spouted about 100 yards out in the midst of dense kelp beds. A dead cormorant lie on Walk-on Beach.

I had stayed up past midnight reading “Montana 1948” an excellant quick read, when I heard a scratching sound near the kitchen. Warm in my bed, I decided not to get up, but soon I heard some scraping again just outside the sliding-glass doors of my room. I rose, pulled back the blinds expecting to shoo-off a racoon, but there on the deck was a small sea lion, snuggled right up to the door. I sat down on the floor and put my fist near the window. It attempted to nuzzle me and smell my hand as if it were a small puppy. Knowing it was wild, I assumed that it must be injured, sick, or perhaps had found this small corner and established it as her night-home.

I called my wife Aleso, needed to hear her voice, and we talked about the obsidian-eyed creature now sleeping on the deck. We talked about us and the kids, and she seemed so close, though she was 3 hours away.

When I woke in the morning, she was still outside, but in the light, I realized she was very ill. I called the rescue center and three volunteers came to aid SeaMuse. We corralled her with boards into a travel-pen and then the lead volunteer drove her to Bodega Bay where she was met by someone from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.

It is amazing how quickly I became attached to young SeaMuse. Perhaps she reminded me of our dog of 14 years who had recently passed away. Images of SeaMuse returning to the waters, perhaps coming back to the deck one day and saying hello, permeated my mind.

I called the Center the next day. SeaMuse hadn’t made it. She was malnourished and simply couldn’t fight through whatever disease or injuries she was suffering with.


The Center does a fabulous job, and the volunteers at Sea Ranch were exceptional.

Their website: