Why helicopters were off Beach Drive: ‘Sailing’ sea lion

January 31, 2013 at 6:26 pm | In Seen at sea, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 10 Comments

(Example of “sailing” sea lion; photo by Robin Lindsey)
6:26 PM: No, it was NOT related to the search for the Belvidere estate-sale robber – there was a short-lived report of a possible dead whale off Constellation Park. Turned out to be a resting sea lion, per what Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters told us and others at the scene a little while ago – but not before at least one TV chopper detoured over there to take a look.

P.S. The sea lion was “sailing,” Robin explained – behavior that has previously sparked erroneous reports of a marine mammal in trouble; here’s a 2010 report on Blubberblog that explains sailing, including a photo.

ADDED 8:49 PM: Robin has since provided a photo for us to use – added above – and has also updated the Seal Sitters’ website with an account of what happened tonight, plus the basics on “sailing.”


  1. Seal – Whale, Huge difference.

    Comment by Woodsman — 7:07 pm January 31, 2013 #

  2. That’s a whale of a story… :)

    Comment by onceachef — 7:57 pm January 31, 2013 #

  3. think I hear a Christopher cross song in the background

    Comment by Jim Clark — 9:51 pm January 31, 2013 #

  4. We saw a seal with his flipper out of the water at the end of october. We figured he was going as a shark for Halloween.

    Comment by Claudia — 10:42 pm January 31, 2013 #

  5. Robin- You must be so proud of yourself, for every pic you ever show is simply stunning. Thank you for bringing nature to us.

    Comment by Alki Resident — 5:55 am February 1, 2013 #

  6. There is a perfect example of sea lions sailing on Ivars Restaurants facebook page from Wednesday.

    Comment by Bill — 9:56 am February 1, 2013 #

  7. Thanks, Bill – direct link to the photo he mentions is here:
    When they do it in a group, it’s called “rafting.” I used to see it often over on the Salty’s side of West Seattle’s shore in the early 1990s when we first moved here and I worked a swing shift so was often out in the morning walking and looking at the water. Haven’t seen it myself for a long time but glad to see this! – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:04 am February 1, 2013 #

  8. To Woodsman – I was one of the people who reported this incident. Haven’t had an experience like this before (sounds like you have) but the sea lion”s flipper did look quite big. It also took experts time to determine whale vs sea lion as well so I wouldn’t be so assumptive. Perhaps you’re a marine biologist or have laser like vision?

    Comment by Patty — 5:13 pm February 1, 2013 #

  9. That’s a great picture from the Facebook site linked above. Amazing to see the seals pictured in line formation

    Comment by Rves — 5:50 pm February 1, 2013 #

  10. How cool! I just learned something new.

    Comment by lyndab — 12:13 am February 2, 2013 #

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