Wednesday, 21 March 2012 10:01
I was heading out for a paddle yesterday evening (6:30/7 PM on March 20), when I noticed what seemed to me to be peculiar seal behavior a 100 m or so from the Lions Bay beach. The "seal" was thrashing about in one spot and making shallow dives. I put on the water shortly afterwards and was paddling towards Kelvin Grove when I noticed the "seal" again (or another, I'm not sure), this time swimming north. Unlike the harbor seals I'm used to, this animal was huge and slowly porpoising (not coming out of the water, but arching up to the surface as it swam). It stopped when it saw me, turned in my direction, snorted to show off some rather massive teeth, then dove, seemingly in my direction. I didn't stick around to see where it would surface, instead backpaddled towards shore! I've read a bunch of sea kayaking disaster stories, but never anything about seal attacks, so I was reasonably, but not 100%, sure I would be OK ; )
I posted my experience onto a sea kayaking forum (West Coast Paddler) this morning, and the overwhelming sentiment is that it was a sea lion, probably a California sea lion. I also chatted w/a sea kayaking guide in Wilson Creek who said such a California sea lion sighting is typical. I am therefore convinced what I saw last night was a sea lion. I'm wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience here in Howe Sound?
Oh, one of the paddlers who responded to my West Coast Paddler post recounted how he had been followed for "several miles" by a California sea lion after passing its colony. I would have found this rather disconcerting, especially now that I've seen how large sea lions' teeth are!