Sea Lions – The Belligerent Drunks of the Ocean

Being that this is our first spring living in Oregon, my wife and I decided to go for a drive this past Sunday. Since I’m a Goonies fan, and it happens to be a very nice place to visit, we decided to make the hour or so drive out to Astoria.

We grabbed lunch at one of the towns many brew pubs, and decided to walk around town a bit. Astoria really is a lovely place. It’s definitely a tourist destination, but that doesn’t have to always be a bad thing. Plus: being able to see all the locations used in Goonies is kind of a trip. As we were walking down the pier (where the Fratelli’s had their daring car chase at the beginning of the film), we heard the distinctive ‘Arf! Arf!’ sound of sea lions ahead of us.

Excitedly, we quickened our pace to go see them. Keep in mind that Carolyn and I are new to this whole ‘being anywhere near an ocean’ thing, so seeing thing like sea lions in the wild is still a huge novelty. Plus, it’s sea lions! Obviously we’d seen them in zoos swimming around in their little water tanks. And if you’ve been on Pinterest at least once, you’re bound to come across at least one adorable baby sea lion photo. They’re like big otters, right? Giant, stupidly cute, otters.

As we got closer to the spot on the pier where they were gathered, the ‘Arf! Arf!’ sounds were no longer cute. In fact, they were ear piercing. And what had previously been a soft chorus of sea lions had turned into a thunderous roar of them. All of them constantly barking. We saw these gigantic turd-looking creatures laying around on the rocks. Some of them had managed to crawl up on the pier, where they would just lay there. Once in a while, they’d pick their head up and join the chorus of barks, before laying back down. Maybe these were the old lazy ones? We held on to that hope as we continued walking down the pier.

We saw a crowd of people gathered against a fence, and figured that there must be a bunch of sea lions laying around down below them. Maybe they were doing cute things!

Nope. Unless your idea of cute things is a hundred or so giant sea lions laying in a giant pile, snarling, farting, and constantly biting at each other. Every once in a while, one of them would go into a panic, jump up, and proceed to run across the sprawled out bodies of all the other sea lions. This of course brought about howls of anger and more ‘ARF! ARF! ARF!’ barking sessions. One of them only stopped barking long enough to cough a giant wad of phlegm out of his (the males have little humps on their heads) throat, and into the face of the sea lion next to him. This made the loogie-covered sea lion leap up, and let out a tremendous fart. You could hear the loud “PHHHFFFFFFFT” as it ran across the pile of sea lions, which brought about another chorus of ‘ARF! ARF! ARF!’…

And the smell. Sweet baby Jesus, the smell. Carolyn and I have both spent plenty of time in and around farms. We thought we would be prepared. Nope. We were a good 20 feet away from them, and the stench was so thick that I wanted to gag. It was like a mix of dead fish and feces, all stirred in with a thick helping of wet dog. One of those smells that gets stuck in your nose, and you can’t help but recoil in horror at it.

After about 5 minutes of this, we decided we’d had enough of our first experience of meeting sea lions up close. The entire ride home, we would both catch a whiff of the disgusting stench that had managed to seep its way into our clothes. We both had our fill of sea lions for one lifetime.

Well at least the lunch was good.

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