Surging sea lion population causes frustrations at the coast

VIDEO: Big boost in sea lion population

They’re big and loud and invading Westport Marina.

“They are obnoxious and loud and I’m a little bit leery of them,” said fisherman Trenton Garlock.

Garlock deals with California sea lions daily. He’s watched the population explode.

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“They come in here and they’re safe. There’s nothing that’s making them go away. They tried taking them away by boat, catching them, and nothing has resolved it, they just keep coming back,” said Garlock.

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The 600-pound animals are weighing down and breaking docks. In Westport, they’re not fazed by humans.

“They’re a little aggressive if you get too close,” said Chuck Sexton.

The sea lions aren’t just barking, they’ve been known to block ports and chase people as they look for food.

In Westport, they typically eat anchovies and sardines, but, in other areas, they eat Chinook salmon, which is the orca’s favorite fish. With a dwindling Southern Resident Killer Whale population, some people believe more needs to be done.

“Controlling the sea lion population could definitely be part of the solution,” Zac Palmer.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said there’s a quarter million sea lions on the West Coast. About 300 live in Westport, where they’re well fed and safe, thanks to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“It is illegal to go down there and quote unquote, do something about it, but there is a high level of frustration, particularly along the fishing community,” said Marc Myrscell, Westport Aquarium co-owner.

A city along the West Coast with more sea lions than Westport is Astoria, Oregon, where there are roughly 1,500 sea lions.