Paddling with Sea Lions (and Orcas)
Orca whales (also known as killer whales) throughout the world are known to eat marine mammals of all sizes. That hardly seems possible when confronted on a paddle board in the Sea of Cortez by a 1,500 pound sea lion bull, as I was recently in Bahia Kino, Sonora, Mexico. Turns out their bark is worse than their bite. Paddle boarding past a sea lion colony on the south side of Isla Alcatraz, I counted 90 animals, many of which were bulls. Their posturing and ear piercing barks were meant to intimidate, but they kept their distance, as did I. The young males, however, seemed to love the company, as they swam out to visit and frolicked while porpoising around me. No orcas showed up, though they are frequent Sea of Cortez swimmers, and I was fine with that. Both orcas, California sea lions an stellar sea lions are local spring and summer residents in the Friday Harbor area. Keep in mind that our three local San Juan Islands resident pods eat only salmon and leave all marine mammals alone. I'll talk about transient orca pods, who are summer visitors in the San Juans in another blog post.