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cynthiam 08-23-2010 04:09 AM

Critters in OW
Hi all,

This is a general query about critters in OW, sparked by my sighting today of a sea lion about 20 or so feet/~7m away from me. I looked at it and then I turned to my left and swam away. After a few strokes I looked back but could no longer see it.

So far my OW swimming has been in one location. When I go to swim somewhere else, I would prepare by finding out something about what lives in those waters.

I would prefer to not disturb critters or to engage with them while I'm out there swimming. If I know they're there, I might be able to avoid them. But what about when an animal is nearby unexpectedly? Does the best reaction depend on what kind of critter it is?

Does anyone have any experiences or advice to share?

Thanks, Cynthia

naj 08-23-2010 04:39 AM

HI Cynthia,

Haven't seen you in awhile so we'll have to get together soon to go swim. As far as the critters are concerned, I wouldn't be too worried. In my experience seals, sea lions, and Harbor seals are curious but not overly excited to come over and say hello. That being said, when I've had those guys following me during a swim its more or less to figure out just what the heck I'm doing there :)

Best advice I can give is just keep swimming and they will more than likely leave you alone. In particular don;t make eye contact with a harbor seal (they ae grey with black spots and smaller than sea lions), they assume that by looking at them you want to play and they may come up and bump you or nudge your hand or foot. I'm use to it when they do this but it can be annoying when your trying to get a workout done.

Shoot me and emal and lets go swimming together soon!


ewa.swimmer 08-23-2010 05:27 AM

I agree with Naji. Don't engage a seal or sea lion. Although they can be playful we don't speak their language and we don't know when we are signaling aggression. They can deliver a nasty bite. I have never heard of one mauling a person though.

Dolphins can be the same way. The spinner dolphins that we have here will flee when bothered but that is not the case with bottlenose.

For sharks the advice I've been given and have followed is to take a calm assertive stance (like the dog whisperer). So far that has worked for me but I haven't seen an aggressive shark just reef ones.

cynthiam 08-24-2010 03:53 AM

Thanks. I will follow your advice -- pretty much what I thought.

It was fun to see the sea lion, and I'm glad there wasn't a closer interaction. I wasn't nervous (well, until I managed to kick myself and wondered what that was...:D).

I've been up close and personal with harbor seals, Naji, when kayaking at Moss Landing. Like you wrote, they'll come right up and bump. They were very persistent.

As for sharks, I hope I never need to follow this advice! I've been around reef and little sand sharks, so they don't freak me out. But the big guys west of SF Bay are not the ones I want to be near.

Stijn 08-24-2010 07:14 AM

I would say, enjoy all this water fauna! Here in Belgium you may be lucky if you ever encounter a single fish (max 1ft) in water that's so dark you can't see more than two feet away (but even if it would be clear water, there are just not many animals in the water).
I look forward to once swimming in fauna rich bodies of water!

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