New barrier hopes to keep out sea lions

October 2, 2009 7:31:44 PM PDT
For sea lions in the San Francisco bay this has been a big year. They had a good breeding season and have plenty of food, but the population explosion comes with liabilities as well. Now, there is a new attempt to separate sea lions from people.

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You could say the sea lions are members of the Life Is Good club. Good because they get to enjoy plenty of sun, a dock, and lots of friends, unless you happen to be swimming near them. There it gets a tad dicey.

"It's not a life threatening thing," says Phil Sancimino, a Dolphin Club member.

It's just a nuisance, just the same, after close encounters between sea lions and members of the Dolphin Club, and for anyone with a dock, who happens to find a lounging sea lion in the way.

A couple of weeks ago, San Francisco's port authority heard so many complaints that it decided to take action.

"I think the best bet is to try to deprive them of an artificial area they can habit," says Sancimino.

But sea lions don't just move. They need to be persuaded. Early on the port considered several options, among them using rubber buckshot on them or exploding underwater firecrackers. In this community, that didn't go over so well.

So now the port has come up with this a prototype. The port's Hedly Prince has high hopes for, and plans to build a new series of barriers with galvanized steel pipes, plastic mesh, and rolling PVC pipe. In theory, it will make the docks sea lion proof.

"It won't prevent us from using the dock. Hopefully, it will just prevent the sea lions from using the dock," says Prince.

This barrier and the judicious use of high pressure hoses for those recalcitrant sea lions who neither read, nor heed the signs.

"Well the idea is if we chase the colony away from here, that will keep them out of Aquatic Park, but nobody knows for sure," says Prince.

Look for the new barriers to go up within the next few weeks. The port, at least, hopes it all goes swimmingly.

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