Levitating Sea Lions

The title might be a bit of a stretch, but the punch of it approximates how astonished I was to see the sea lions of the Santa Cruz Wharf this past weekend.

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Before a sunset dinner on Sunday, I was dazzled by a group of sea lions resting on the horizontal structural beams that lay beneath the upper planks of the wharf. Most were in groups of two to three, some lying flat on the wooden supports, a few with their heads propped up on vertical posts. What bewildered me was the distance between the portly pinnipeds and their natural habitat: the water of the bay was around eight feet below the beds on which these sea lions were lounging.

I tried my best to capture it with my camera phone, but you should really go check it out in person if you can. There are a couple spaces built into the wharf so that visitors can peek through. Seeing these 600-800 pound creatures suspended high above the water tickled me to death. Perhaps it’s because they seemed so out of place – perched above the waves,  warm and dry inside their man-made cave, like circus elephants balancing on stools, except this trick is self-taught.

I guess my dinner companion, a native Cruzian, was used to the sight and a bit surprised by my extreme excitement. “I knew you’d like to see animals, but I didn’t think you’d enjoy it THIS much!”

I would have given my left pinkie to see one of them dive into the water, but alas, that was not meant to be. I wonder if the big fellas wait until the tide brings the water closer to their roost before diving back in. Or, do they make the long jump, with what must be the most excellent of canon-ball splashes?

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