Washington Town’s Docks Guarded by Aggressive Sea Lions

   09.27.13

Anglers, commercial fishermen, and boaters are finding life a little bit more difficult in Westport, Washington after recent clashes with the area’s sea lions. According to Q13Fox, sea lions have always been a part of life in Westport, but their increasing numbers are bringing the animals into conflict with humans more frequently.

“They will get aggressive,” said Marc Myrsell, the owner of a Westport Aquarium.

There have been cases of sea lions jumping up onto the docks and harassing fishermen who were cleaning fish. Myrsell tells KATU that he counted over 100 of the animals near the docks recently and male sea lions would often be seen lounging on platforms waiting for an easy meal.

The root of the problem lies with the amount of fish the Westport dock sees, which between fishing charters and commercial operations can add up to an all-you-can-eat buffet for the aquatic mammals.

“If someone brings me free pizza and beer I am not going to leave ever,” Myrsell joked.

The aquarium manager attributes the cause of the problem to people feeding the sea lions. Occasionally visitors would toss a fish or two to the waiting animals, and the remains left behind by fishermen were more than welcome. As with most wild animals, feeding causes sea lions to lose their instinctive wariness of humans and may lead to aggressive behavior. So far no major incidents have been reported, but residents say at least two dogs have been killed by sea lions near the docks in the last two years. The local fishermen are also at the end of their patience.

“There is a tremendous amount of animosity between the fishermen and what’s going on with the sea lions,” Myrsell said. “The carcasses need to be collected or there needs to be a place where fishermen can bring the carcasses and then somebody else takes them away.”

The Westport Aquarium recently received a $10,000 grant to start an awareness program that will hopefully mitigate the town’s sea lion woes. Myrsell intends on using the funds for flyers and educational materials as well as presentations around the state.

Read More