So, this morning, on what may be one of the last paddles at Base Camp 1, before transitioning to Base Camp 2, I decided to enter the water and practice a self-rescue or two. Very responsible, indeed. Comfortably clad in dry suit, over a layer of fleece, I would be nicely protected from the chilly waters of the Salish Sea - but NOT from the massive body that suddenly surfaced with a dramatic and powerful exhalation, just metres away! It was a Stellar sea lion. Eumetopias Jubatus. He had a huge brown head and dark, penetrating eyes. These "guys" can weigh up to 1000 kgs (that's more than a ton) and be over three metres in length. Yikes!
The memory of being "stalked" by two sea lions, at close quarters, several years ago was still fresh. Entering the water now seemed rather foolish so I quickly slid back into the cockpit. Joan, with her usual calm demeanour, suggested that it might be “sensible” to back away from this massive and curious pinniped. Even if he wanted us to be his new "best pals”, we weren’t sticking around to play! Not a chance. Paddling to shore (with restrained fanfare), we exited the kayaks on a small shell beach and took up an observation point on the rocks. For the longest time, he stuck around, huffing and puffing and showing off an intimidating set of teeth - designed, of course, for grasping and tearing food. I truly wondered if he'd ever move on, and allow us back on the water!
Eventually tiring of waiting, the sea lion's magnificent and powerful body vanished beneath the waves, swimming in the direction of Separation Point. To be so close to nature in the raw, as “unsettling” as it can be, was very, very special. Our eyes connected with one another. I know they did. I couldn’t help but wonder if this fellow creature also returned home with a story to tell, of the two sea kayakers - with temporarily elevated heart rates - who declined to play. 😊