Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Barking up the Wrong Sea Lion

Sunday nights at my house when I was a kid consisted of a big bowl of popcorn and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, back when it was called Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. There was the great animation of Tink popping fireworks over the castle in Technicolor. We even got to see Walt himself as he told the story of the episode we were going to see. The building of excitement of something great and being with family for popcorn that was made on the stove in a cast iron skillet, made Sunday nights the night to look forward to. Dad was the popper, the rest of us, the munchers.

This is a newer intro, but Tink makes her appearance.

Cartoons were good, so were those movies like Mary Poppins, but the real star as far as I was concerned was any documentary that contained animals. I loved the photography, the beautiful scenery, the wonderful animals and the outrageously funny narrations. Animal behavior was unpredictable and could downright funny. Leaping lizards and dancing birds all made up some of these fantastic documentaries.

While I enjoyed most of the animals depicted on the nature documentaries, I just adored the seals. If my memory serves me right, which it probably does NOT, there were several little snippets that were filmed with the Mouskateers and seals doing tricks. There was even the movie, Sammy the Far Out Seal, which I do NOT remember.


Seals on Disney were sleek, black, funny and very, very intelligent. They were able to do tricks, play with their handlers and amuse the crowds. You can see the same silly seals in Sea World.

These kind of seals:

So, you can imagine how excited I was to get a chance to see the seals when I was out in California. I had heard about the seals just lazing about on the shores and the floating docks in San Francisco. I imagined all these cute little black sealions barking and waiting to entertain me.

However, this is what greeted me on the shores of California (right outside of Cambria if anyone wants to know) and on the docks of San Francisco:






Not quite what I had in mind at all, however, the sea lion seen above is the same sea lion used by places like Sea World. They seem to have a fur that I did not expect, as they come onto shore to molt.

Apparently, sea lions are quite content to float about or lounge on the beach. I did see a couple interactions between two males that was on the aggressive side, but for the most part, these guys are just as happy sunning themselves as they are socializing. They also have little ears, which takes them out of the true seal class like the Leopard Seal.

The sea lion is an extremely social creature, and they communicate with series of barks and chirps that is only understood if you are another seal.

These guys are so smart that the Navy has used them to retrieve equipment, search for mines and do other services related to ships and rescue. They are used along with the dolphin for use by the government. Even they are about to lose their jobs by robots. The Navy will replace the use of these guys by robots by 2017.

Seals taste good if you are a killer whale or a polar bear.

While my seals did not come with a beach ball or a Hula Hoop, they were entertaining to watch in the natural state. They nuzzled, fought, bickered, complained, pushed each other off the floats and all the natural things that social groups do. They chased each other out of groups and talked about the outcast.

I was fascinated by how many of these things there were. They were everywhere.

If you get a chance to see these guys in the wild, they really are a fascinating sight.

Oh, and they are NOISY!


Julie and Blu