The sea lions are back in Newport Harbor, and they’re not the only
Harbor residents say the sea lions are destroying property and
peace and quiet. But the sea lions are protected mammals, which
limits actions by the Harbor Patrol.
The sea lions’ barking is keeping residents awake at night. And
over Labor Day weekend, a group of sea lions climbed aboard a boat
and sunk it under their weight.
Sharon Allen, who lives on Balboa Peninsula, said she can hardly
stand the noise.
“They’re making it impossible for the people that live here to
sleep,” Allen said. “It’s like 10 or 15 huge dogs barking
The harbor is currently home to five “aggressive” bull sea lions
who are helping themselves to sunning spots on boats moored in the
harbor, said Sgt. John Whitman of the Orange County Sheriff’s
Department Harbor Patrol.
They climb onto to the boats, using the swim steps, and sunbathe
on the decks, Whitman said.
On Sunday, a group of sea lions climbed onto a 37-foot sailboat,
weighting it down until the boat took on water, Whitman said. Harbor
Patrol moved the boat to another mooring to avoid a second sinking,
“Now I understand the sea lions have actually followed that thing
back there,” Whitman said.
Carter Ford, a member of a subcommittee of the city’s Harbor
Resources Department, said residents are raising their own ruckus
about the sea lion situation.
Ford lives on Lido Isle and can hardly hear the sea lions from his
home but said he encounters them regularly.
Sailing in a race several weeks ago inside the harbor, Ford
suddenly found himself face to face with a sea lion.
“It was nose to nose with me,” Ford said.
The sea lions are a regular sight -- and sound -- around the
harbor, Ford said. They lounge on anything that floats and often
compete for the space, Ford said.
“They seem to be somewhat territorial,” Ford said.
After watching sea lions invade a sailboat in the harbor, Allen
said something has to be done about the noise and the destruction
caused when the sea lions climb aboard private boats.
“I just think the city needs to address the problem and nobody
seems to be doing anything,” Allen said.
Residents are fed up, but the Harbor Patrol contends there’s
little it can do to remove the sea lions, which are protected under
federal law, Whitman said.
“Pretty much all we can do is, if they’re on the boat, we can
pretty much advise the boat owner to try and take some sort of
protective measures to keep the sea lions off their boats,” Whitman
When the Harbor Patrol receives a call complaining of sea lions on
a private boat, the sea lions usually leave once the Harbor Patrol
boat gets too close, Whitman said.
“As soon as we leave the area, they jump right back on,” Whitman
The Harbor Patrol discourages using any type of sharp deterrent
that could harm the animal. Instead, a wedge block of wood, affixed
to the swim steps, can prevent the sea lion from climbing onto the
boat, Whitman said.
If boat owners visit their boats frequently, it helps keep sea
lions away, Whitmore said.
“The boats they tend to congregate on are the boats that people
are never on,” Whitmore said.
The sea lions may be disrupting life in the harbor, but sea
mammals come with the territory of living in a marine environment,
* LAUREN VANE covers public safety and courts. She may be reached
at (714) 966-4618 or firstname.lastname@example.org.