A sea lion swims around the Ballard Locks in 2014.
Enlarge Icon
A sea lion swims around the Ballard Locks in 2014.

Death threats. Kidnapping plans. Nothing could stop Ballard's sea lions

"Ong ong ong" or "arf arf arf" — what does the sea lion say?

Our Twitter audience couldn't come to a confident answer on how to describe the sound that sea lions make.


Either way, Douglass and Julie McCrea wondered why they hear less of that distinctive, reverberating bark at the Ballard Locks. The couple took their kayaks there several times and didn’t see any of the one of the most notorious loungers, bingeing as they do on salmon, and creating a ruckus.

So the McCreas asked us to investigate this mystery.

The Locks were a popular hangout for the sea lions since it creates a bottleneck for salmon. For decades, state officials, protesters and the sea lions debated what to about this all-you-can-eat salmon buffet the sea lions were taking advantage of.

Scare tactics, death threats (to the sea lions) and kidnapping plans ensued. But that’s not what ultimately caused the sea lions to skip town on an easy meal.

Get the full story by clicking the play button above. You can also listen and subscribe to SoundQs on your favorite podcast app.

Have a question about the Seattle region for us to answer? Drop it here: