Sea lions sink a 27-foot sailboat - Soundings Online

Sea lions sink a 27-foot sailboat

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Sea lions took over Newport Harbor in Newport Beach, Calif., this summer, aggravating residents with their noisy barking, and climbing aboard boats to sunbathe.

Sea lions took over Newport Harbor in Newport Beach, Calif., this summer, aggravating residents with their noisy barking, and climbing aboard boats to sunbathe. Over Labor Day weekend, 18 of the massive marine mammals — adult males can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds depending on the species — reportedly piled onto a classic sailboat and sank it.

Gerald Dunlap of Garden Grove, Calif., told the Associated Press he had spent more than a year refitting the 27-footer, which had been tied to a mooring at the time of the incident. The 63-year-old contractor reportedly paid $3,500 to have Razzle Dazzle raised from the bottom of the harbor.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. … I don’t know if I feel like working another two years to get a boat to work,” Dunlap says in the report.

While authorities say the 95-year-old sailboat sustained no structural damage, the radios, radar and electrical system apparently were ruined.

“I think in the past sea lions here might have been responsible for sinking a dinghy, but not a full-sized boat,” says Sgt. David Ginther of the Orange County Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol. “That’s to the best of my knowledge, anyway.”

Ginther says that when Harbor Patrol officers approach a boat containing a “dangerous” number of sea lions, the animals vacate when the officers get too close, then return when they leave. He says the officers have had to relocate a number of “problem” boats out of the area.

To help ward off the sea lions, which are federally protected, some boat owners reportedly went as far as stringing wire and milk carton barricades around their vessels. Others have placed lawn chairs upside down on their swim platforms. Harbor officials considered using underwater firecrackers, predator sounds and scarecrows to help “shoo away” the animals, according to the report. In September town officials asked the city council to make feeding sea lions illegal.