Christmas Eve has arrived. Sugar plums are dancing through your heads, tiny tots’ eyes are all aglow and I’m not feeling too good myself.
Yes, the holiday season is well under way. It’s a time when one’s fancy turns gently to thoughts of bloodthirsty pinnipeds with bad attitudes and worse breath.
I wouldn’t kid you on this, amigos.
In recent weeks we’ve been bombarded by near hysterical news reports of ill-tempered sea lions going on the attack, biting swimmers and chasing off wide-eyed tourists.
Suddenly, the San Francisco Bay’s flippered, honking clowns of the sea have turned into the Sea Lions of the Apocalypse.
They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. Last month, The Associated Press reported, one particularly irate sea lion was credited with biting no fewer than 14 swimmers and is reputed to have run another 10 out of the water at San Francisco’s Aquatic Park.
Last year, the news service reported, a gang of the big, unexpectedly short-tempered mammals claimed a Newport Beach marina and proceeded to sink a 50-foot yacht.
And for some reason, people are surprised by these antisocial antics.
(Repeat after me: “Gol…”).
Some experts believe that the grumpy behavior may be the result of sea lions ingesting fish who have eaten hallucinogenic algae. Others say an ocean food shortage may be to blame.
Sorry. If anything’s to blame, it’s intrusive human beings who insist on getting closer and closer to the sea lions because the half-ton animals remind them of a Disney cartoon they saw when they were children (or adults). We’re talking a big cuddliness perception here.
Let’s face it, sea lions in San Francisco Bay are simply fed up with 290-pound tourists from Iowa pelting them with soggy pretzels and half-eaten Polish dogs.
(“Here, Sammy, here! Sit up and clap your flippers – I got a treat for you!”).
And just about the time our increasingly annoyed sea lion manages to shake the rancid mustard out of his whiskers, some grinning lunatics decide they want to swim with him.
Swimming with the sea lions. That’s really special.
Have you ever seen the water around Fisherman’s Wharf? It would be healthier to go swimming in your local water treatment plant with a half-dozen frolicsome pit bulls.
You can bet what that weary sea lion’s thinking as you merrily splash into his living room:
“Awwwwww, no – not another one of those. Who needs ’em? They’re pink, they’re noisy and they keep yelling ‘Save the manatees!’ What’s that all about? Think I’ll bite ’em…”.
To make matters worse, a significant percentage of California’s population seems to think that the sea lion is irresistibly cute.
Many of them weigh in at nearly 1,000 pounds, have teeth that could take a good chunk out of a Lincoln Town Car and they smell like a dead perch.
You want cute? Go swim with the muskrats. Now they’re cute…
Originally published December 24, 2006