Forget barking dogs. How about a trip to Orlando?

The city of San Diego’s widely ridiculed plan to shoo seals away from the Children’s Pool in La Jolla involves playing recordings of barking dogs and spraying the seals with water.

That plan is clearly designed never to be implemented, said the attorney who sued the city. He instead suggested a sprinkler system and the use of a vinyl air-blown “scarecrow,” according to the Union-Tribune.

But pinnipeds aren’t always easy to get rid of. A devoted reader recently pointed me to a situation several years in Seattle, where officials used methods such as firecrackers to get rid of sea lions feasting on steelhead, a type of sport fish.

Here’s from a 2005 story:

The Seattle effort included trapping the sea lions, shooting them with rubber-tipped arrows, broadcasting fake killer-whale sounds, exploding underwater fireworks and other tactics, but it ultimately proved to be a losing effort to save the steelhead.

Admittedly, the situation’s not identical to the battle at the Children’s Pool, where a lawsuit seeks to have the manmade cove be returned to a safe swimming area for children.

In Seattle, officials even shipped the sea lions down the California coast. But they found their way back.

From a 1990 Seattle Times story:

One of six sea lions trucked to Southern California to keep them from eating wild steelhead near the Ballard Locks is back in Seattle.

The returnee, a 832-pound critter dubbed Number 22, was found yesterday on a buoy off Shilshole Marina, the first sea lion to make it back from the Channel Islands off the California coast.

“We wanted to find out if they would come back, and we did,” said Hal Alabaster, spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service. “Now we have an idea how long it takes.”

Steve Jeffries, a state wildlife biologist who had worked on the team that captured the sea lions and transported them to California in late March, made the discovery that Number 22 had made the 1,000-mile journey back to Seattle.

The sea lions banished to California were each fitted with a radio transmitter so scientists could track their movements. Number 22 still carried his transmitter.

Last year, 37 sea lions were captured and released 270 miles south of Seattle on the Washington coast. But 29 swam back within two weeks.

Over the past five years, authorities have used firecrackers, nets, sounds of predators and foul-tasting fish to chase the sea lions away. All efforts have failed.

Apparently, the distance wasn’t far enough. A 1998 story chronicles how the sea lions did eventually leave the locks:

The National Marine Fisheries Service says it thinks removing the most troublesome sea lions in 1996 went a long way toward resolving the problem.

Those sea lions were shipped to Sea World in Orlando, Fla.

RANI GUPTA

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.