It was a chill day toward the end of February when a local newspaper reported a herd, sometimes called a ‘raft’, of sea lions, pulled out of the water over on Trial Island, a small rocky local island just off Oak Bay, British Columbia Canada.
It was chilly, 34°F, or 1°C, when we hopped aboard a pair of Whitehall Spirit® Tango 17® Double Slide Seat Sculling Rowboats and rowed off headed for Trial Island. Our newest crew-member Amanda was aboard with Harold and Lexi in one boat and Colin and Diana in another.
The wind was blowing about 10 knots or 18 km from the north, which put it behind us rowing down to the island. Amanda was busy filming with the new 360° cameras we had just acquired. Check out the YouTube video.
When we got to the island, there was no sign of any sea lions. Then suddenly a dozen heads broke the surface and barked a greeting. We were careful not to get too close, however, they definitely appeared to enjoy our company.
These were a group of male Steller sea lions hanging out on the island, likely waiting for the next school of herring to swim by so they could load up on lunch. Sea lions are amazingly agile underwater, and we had hoped to get some underwater footage with our underwater camera if they came over and stayed farther inshore, closer in to the rocky shore.
Despite the dangerous sounding name, sea lions are actually very gentle creatures, and unless thoroughly provoked never attack anyone. This was a small group of 20 or so animals and it was a joy to hear them barking and observe them splashing around.
Even though the wind was pretty damn cold, almost freezing, after checking out the sea lions, we rowed back upwind, back to the dock at Oak Bay Marina. It was really cold, but the row down warmed all the rowers right up except for Amanda who had just been filming everything and not rowing.
In less than half an hour we were back at the dock, secured the boats, and headed to the local coffee shop for some hot chocolate to warm up!
It was such a ‘cool’ adventure to be able to row out and spend a little time with these gorgeous, gentle creatures of the sea. The video we shot was pretty cool also!