No sign of wayward sea lion in Somenos Marsh

Marine mammal likely headed back to sea

This sea lion was pictured in a flooded parking lot at Somenos Marsh on Jan. 31. (Submitted)

This sea lion was pictured in a flooded parking lot at Somenos Marsh on Jan. 31. (Submitted)

There have been no known recent sightings of the sea lion that visited Somenos Marsh earlier this month.

Paul Fletcher, president of the Somenos Wildlife Society, said society members have been on the water in the marsh a number of times over the last few days conducting water quality tests and there was no evidence the sea lion is still in the area.

Fletcher said he believes the sea lion made its way back to the ocean before water levels in the marsh and its tributaries dropped enough to prevent the marine mammal’s return to salt water.

“Sea lions are smart animals and there was enough water in the creek in the Somenos Marsh last week to allow it to move easily back to the ocean,” he said.

“I think it travelled into the marsh out of curiosity because the high waters allowed it to, or maybe it was following salmon upstream.”

Youbou’s Rhonda Vertefeuille shot a sort video of the unusual sight of the sea lion swimming in a flooded parking lot between the Trans Canada Highway and the Somenos Marsh, more than eight kilometres of usually smaller waterways from the ocean, on Jan. 31.

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A perfect storm of very high rainfall over a three-day period and a high tide made access to the marsh via the Cowichan River and Somenos Creek relatively easy.

Vertefeuille posted the video on her Facebook page and the posting went viral, receiving thousands of hits from around the world.

Fletcher said it’s the first time that he knows of that a sea lion made it all the way to Somenos Marsh.

“We have had seals make their way to Somenos Lake before, but no sea lions and I don’t know of any reports of seals or sea lions in the marsh before,” he said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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