Astoria officials and locals have been scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to get rid of the ubiquitous barking sea lions that have arrived by the thousands this year on the city's docks. But now, the city may be bringing in the big guns, or should I say, whale.
The Daily Astorian reports that the Port of Astoria is looking into bringing a fake orca near the East End Mooring Basin to hopefully scare away pesky sea lions laying around.
The "Fake Willy" is a fiberglass orca, coming from Island Mariner Cruises, whose owner offered to bring it down to Astoria as a nonlethal method to drive off sea lions. Astoria port staff will tow the model to near the docks before it will be operated by remote control while making orca sounds.
As EarthFix reported, pinnipeds have completely taken over Astoria's East Mooring Basin and there's been a significant bump in numbers in the lower Columbia River. Researchers predict this is due to unusually warm temperatures in the Pacific, which is driving some California sea lions north in search of food.
The city of Astoria has already experimented with electric mats on the docks, but the experiment failed "because the brackish water in Astoria wasn't salty enough for sea lions to notice the small shocks" the local paper reported. New pads were expected to be tested this week.
Editor's note: This story misreported the fake orca's origin. The orca was built and is owned by Island Mariner Cruises.