The trouble with sealions

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Fri 17 Feb 2012 17:20
On our first morning in port, when I got up and went outside, there was a small sealion sitting on the steps on one hull.  They look quite cute when they look up at you with their big black eyes.  I just spoke gently to it, asking whether it should really be using our steps as a sunbathing platform.  It thought about it for a moment, looked a bit embarrassed and swam off.
That one obviously went and told its mates that the guy on Anastasia wouldn't say boo to a goose, because the next night they all sneaked over when we were in bed, climbed the steps and spread themselves out in the cockpit.  They are the filthiest animals I have ever encountered and they made a horrible mess, smearing fishy poo and sealion hairs everywhere.  There must have been a dozen of them, because the steps up both hulls were plastered.  It is rich in fish oil, so it doesn't just rinse off when you spray it, especially when it has dried on.  It took me an hour of spraying and scrubbing to clean up. 
During the day we went on a boat trip and so we tied a network of ropes over the starboard hull to see if that would deter them.  Not at all, all we had done was prepare a comfortable sealion hammock for them.  To make matters worse, in the evening, when we got back from the restaurant in the dark, I was faced with jumping off the water taxi into a tangle of ropes and sealions.  Sealions get quite cross when they think you are going to jump on them.  I was lucky not to get bitten.
So, last night we strapped some chairs onto the bottom of the steps to make a more solid-looking barrier.  So far that has deterred most of them.  There was just one small one huddled up behind a chair.  It did not fit well on the bottom step, but it was determined to stay crammed in there.  It looked quite cute (see photo) until I tried to shoo it off, at which point it transformed into the evil snarling beast that lurks within every sealion, growling and biting at the broom handle as I encouraged it to leave.
Some boats in the harbour have barbed wire around them, some of the bigger boats just put up with piles of sealions (and sealion poo) on the deck.  The smaller boats have to be careful because there is actually one in the harbour at the moment that broke apart under the weight of all the sealions on its deck.