SEA LION. Found on beach, southwestern end of Indian Island, Jefferson County, Washington State.
Dropped by high tide this morning, 24 January 2011. Water depth stick alongside is two meters long. Total length, approximately 250cm, snout to tip of tail. Scars mostly skin deep. Skull still with fresh flesh, but jaws as if cleaned by beetles in a museum.........Some teeth missing in a jaw exposed. Strange to find a plastic fork there at its tongue........probably also dropped on the morning tide change. Who knows?
Not long ago, I found a freshly dead harbor seal a few miles from this site. It had a heavy black mesh plastic stuffed well into its throat and wrapped around its teeth so that the seal could not eat. To my way of thinking, it had died of plastic.
This sea lion will likely not be necropsied since no one seems to bother with small marine mammals. I have no way of knowing if the plastic fork came from the sea lion or just happened to drop with the falling tide.
If you read my post from this morning, you will know that a lot of trash arrived on Marrowstone Island over night. Marrowstone rests alongside Indian Island. In fact, they are artificially joined on their southern ends. Where I photographed but did not touch this sea lion, the US Army Corps of Engineers dug a channel, removing an ancient Indian Village and burials to do so. This excavation created a ship canal between Indian Island and the mainland, allowing safe passage for small boats that would otherwise have to round the stormy waters off the east shore of Marrowstone.
The Indian Village(s) had been occupied for centuries and remain places of importance within the Usual and Accustomed living, hunting, and fishing areas of the S'Klallam. I bring tribal youth here to share with them what I know of their ancestral homeland and waterways. Lucky for me, I learned by listening to tribal elders as a child and when I worked for the S'Klallam as their first fisheries biologist and cultural resource specialist. It seemed a bit interesting to find this sea lion today..........about ten feet from where I once found two stone tools........and then, as I looked up from the sea lion's body, a river otter ran down the beach and slipped into the ocean. The otter swam only five or six feet from shore and turned into the current and watched me for a long time. The pair of eagles, always present here, shouted out something. I suppose they hope to complete the job of reducing the sea lion to bones. But where this huge marine mammal rests for now makes me think it will simply wash out to the more distant seas to the west.