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Nautical interlopers get the hose treatment

Most boaters view guano-dropping seabirds as the biggest problem when it comes to marine life and their moored boats. Southern Californian boaters face a much larger hurdle than shooing away seagulls.

Sea lions continue to be a chronic nuisance for boat owners in Newport Harbor,Calif., where these federally protected creatures are routinely spotted lounging on swim transoms, sometimes in groups so heavy that the stern end dips below the water surface, according to a report in The Log Newspaper. Netting and potted plants have failed to keep away the sun-seeking creatures, and their loud barking sometimes lasts deep into the night.

It is against the law to harm or even touch these mammals, so Newport Beach officials and representatives of the South Mooring Co. came up with a new approach — a high-pressure water hose.

“It’s kind of fun,” says Gary Cate, a skipper for South Mooring Co. who has started routine sea lion patrols. “I definitely think it’s helping.”

Cate, along with co-workers Javier Salas and Chuck South arm themselves with a hose of cold water and a dull pole that is used only to nudge the stubborn lions that don’t react to the water, a gentle reminder to move along. If they try to board the boat again, the lions are treated to another blast of water, according to the report.

So far, up to six sea lions have been effectively ousted from their snooze spots on the decks of vessels, according to the report.

“This seems to be doing some good, so we are going to be keeping this up for a while,” says South in the report.

— Elizabeth Ellis