Surfing with Sea Lions

I’d like to get some comments on this topic. To be more specific, I mean surfing with sea lions in the water.  Today like many other days in my surfing career I saw sea lions while surfing.  I don’t really like surfing with sea lions because sharks are known to eat sea lions, however  I have learned to deal with my water friends after five years of surfing on the West Coast from Washington thru Oregon to California.  My friends and I even saw sea lions in Hawaii.  One of them caught the same wave as my friend into shore and really freaked him out.  Someone told me today that you got to be careful of the sea lions because they are territorial.  I had never heard that so when I got home today I googled “surfing and sea lions.”  Google returned mostly articles and videos about sea lions attacking surfers.  I had no idea they did that. Most of the time when I surfed with sea lions they would just swim by, ignore me, and go about their business; and the only danger was in my head because I associate sea lions with sharks.

Unlike most days though, the two sea lions were coming up from their dive with fish that were a foot long.  Shaking their heads to rip their teeth into the fish and chomp down their meal.  Big sea lions too; I’m not very familiar with the different species but I know they weren’t little seals.  Another thing about today was the birds.  There were sea gulls and other small birds eating the fish scraps so that told me there was leftover blood and guts from the sea lions killing the fish they were eating.  So now I’m associating blood with sharks and I’m a little bit freaked out.  Oddly or not, my excuse for staying in was that there were other people 20 yards away on either side of me.  One time in Florence Oregon when I was the only surfer in the water with some sea lions I decided to go back in before the sun set.  Yeah, again, sun set and sharks right.

Nothing could get me out of the water today.  The waves were just too damn good, Waist to Chest high, with fun playful lines and light winds. So I continued on surfing and the sea lions continued on eating, big fish.  That’s the way things usually go, because all those animals live there.  When I go surfing I’m entering sea world, not the amusement park, the wild ocean.   There is a risk involved in surfing as with anything you do.  I know it’s more likely to die in the car on the way to the beach.  So I accept the risk and try not to think about it just like everyone does when they drive.  Sometimes like today It’s harder to not think about the risk.  I have always believed hungry, aggressive sharks will be seen thrashing about or there will be signs of a shark’s presence.  Was I seeing signs today?  Should I have gotten out of the water?  Maybe I should have, in the past I might have, but today I didn’t.

Being in the water is therapeutic for me, I forget about responsibilities and worries, and just surf my waves.   As a good friend says to me “when you go surfing, you put on blinders and all you see is waves.”  I usually reply “That’s why I love it.”   Today I didn’t just see waves, I also saw the sea lions, fish, and birds and I kept thinking, “Why couldn’t I just be surfing with the dolphins like yesterday!”

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