Sea lion stops off at Bush Point Bed & Breakfast

This adult female California sea lion relaxes at the Bush Point Bed & Breakfast on Monday after climbing a flight of stairs.  - Roy Jacobson / The Record
This adult female California sea lion relaxes at the Bush Point Bed & Breakfast on Monday after climbing a flight of stairs.
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / The Record

There’s nothing like a six-hour nap after a workout.

Followed by a shower.

A sea lion climbed out of Admiralty Inlet about 9 o’clock Monday morning, hung around for awhile on the Bush Point wharf, then waddled up 16 outside stairs, including a landing, at the Bush Point Bed & Breakfast.

Then it plopped down on the porch next to the potted geraniums near the door of the “penthouse” guest suite and went to sleep.

“It seemed to make it up the stairs all right,” said Bonnie McKee, manager of the B&B, as she observed the snoozer shortly before noon. “I’m a little worried about it being able to get back down.”

McKee was starting to get a little nervous, too.

“Maybe if we go away, it’ll come down,” she said. “I don’t want it to be scared. It’s sleepy.”

“I try to respect nature,” she added, “but

I have to get in there to clean.”

McKee said she didn’t get close enough to determine if the sea lion was male or female, so she compromised by alternately referring to it as “he” and “precious.”

She said she had seen two sea lions frolicking in the inlet earlier, and speculated that this may be one of them.

“What’re you going to do, precious?” McKee called up the stairs. “Your momma’s probably looking for you.”

At the sound of her voice, the sea lion raised it head, shook a little and plopped back down.

Actually, this mammal may be a mother herself.

Sandra Dubpernell, of the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network, verified from photos on Tuesday that the animal is an adult female California sea lion.

“It’s rare for us to get females on Whidbey,” Dubpernell said. “We get almost exclusively the large males.”

She believes this one is the same sea lion spotted by network volunteers at Maxwelton Beach on Thursday, and possibly the same one that had been hanging around Seattle for several days.

She said adult females are golden in color, are about five feet long and can weigh up to 250 pounds. Adult males are much larger, she said, and are distinguished by a ring of fur around the neck and a sagittal crest on the head.

Males are the ones constantly getting into mischief down at the Ballard Locks in Seattle, she said.

Dubpernell said females generally stay in California to breed and only rarely come north.

“Maybe she was looking for a boyfriend,” she said with a chuckle.

Dubpernell said that in California, sea lions are so used to people that they come right up on the beach among sunbathers.

“There’s a story that so many climbed on a sailboat, they sank it,” she said. “They’re great climbers, and they love to sit in the sun. The water’s cold.”

It is illegal to feed or harass or remove beached marine mammals. “It’s best just to leave them alone,” Dubpernell said.

But back to Monday’s drama.

McKee thought that the guests in the penthouse had already departed, but they had only been on an outing, and returned mid-afternoon to check out.

“They were thrilled to see it,” she said of the sea lion. “They didn’t want to disturb it, but they needed to get their things.”

But how to get past?

Finally, about 3:30 p.m., someone suggested the garden hose.

A few well-placed sprays and down the stairs the sea lion came. Then it was back into the water, where she rolled and played and kept pace with a group of walkers.

“It was like it was performing or something,” McKee said. “It’s like they had bonded.”

Dubpernell said that while using a hose would be considered a little extreme in other circumstances, it was the right thing to do in this one, because it was important that the sea lion, um, relocate.

“She appears to be perfectly fine,” Dubpernell said. “Maxwelton, Bush Point ­— maybe next she’ll come up to Admiral’s Cove where

I live.”

“She was just coming by to say hi, I guess,” McKee said.

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