Wily sea lion slips aboard family’s Wash. sailboat

No one wants to be stuck with a large, uninvited visitor. Especially a sea lion that makes itself at home on a family sailboat - twice.

Lynnea Flarry and her family were picnicking Sunday on Clark Island when her daughter-in-law spotted a sea lion aboard the family’s 31-foot boat. The animal had apparently taken advantage of a ladder on the stern of the boat.

Flarry’s son and grandchildren took a dingy out to the boat to try to coax the animal back into the water.

When they got close, the sea lion hid “behind the lifesaver like a little kid who hides behind a curtain and doesn’t realize his toes are sticking out,” Flarry said.


Flarry’s granddaughter stayed aboard, taking photo after photo of the sea lion swimming in circles around the boat.

“She was so busy snapping pictures she forgot to bring the ladder up,” Flarry said.

The sea lion climbed back onto the boat, and the family returned to evict the animal once again.

Marine mammal rescuers said the animal is likely suffering from the poisoning effects of a toxin found in algae.


Such unusual behavior is a red flag for domoic acid poisoning, said Amy Traxler, coordinator at the San Juan County Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Friday Harbor.

Domoic acid is a neurotoxin that occurs naturally in algae. Marine mammals affected by the toxin can display erratic, aggressive behavior and often become disoriented, said Mieke Eerkens, spokeswoman for Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif.