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Sherman Island Sea-Creature Encounter
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bob1



Joined: 27 Apr 1998
Posts: 100
Location: San Carlos, CA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 3:18 pm    Post subject: Sherman Island Sea-Creature Encounter Reply with quote

Blew out east this week, and sailed The Sign Wed late afternoon, powered-up 4.2m w/ light ebb. . .

So I'm getting ready to jibe near Marker 14 and I see this splash and flash out of the corner of my eye. Figure it's one of those big-ass, prehistoric-looking sturgeons you see out there from time to time . . . on next reach I'm flying across and right in front of me this big black thing breaches the water several feet into the air writhing violently and crashes with a huge splash about 15 yards to my port, seriously scares the 'carbon-fiber' out of me . . . coming around on my jibe, I see the thing surface again, and it turns out to be large seal/sea lion ripping apart a white sturgeon, looked like one of those Alaskan Orca-whale attacks you see on Discovery Channel but on a smaller, yet far more intimate scale.

I've sailed Rio on/off for years, but don't think I've ever seen a seal that far up river. Do those things regularly feed up there or is this a Humphrey-the-Whale-type thing?

Noone else was around to witness and/or discuss, and I was just curious . . . definately, adding to my mental gallery of cool & unexpected wild-life encounters while sailing . . .
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tomg



Joined: 10 Apr 2000
Posts: 199

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Exciting stuff indeed! I once was under the impression that those big citters didn't go upstream from the ocean too far but recent postings about a baby great white spotted off the R-S Bridge and that awesome photo of the grey whale at Sherman in the most recent WS Mag has me thinking otherwise. Also the reverse holds true: I've heard credible reports of beavers in the creek in Martinez and freshwater otters near Sausalito. So I guess the answer is that it is rare but these guys go where ever the best dinner awaits.


Tom G.
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jdarnst



Joined: 17 Jun 2004
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:48 pm    Post subject: Close Encounters Reply with quote

I was just down wind of you that night, above the power lines. I was having fun in the swell just after sunset when I crashed on the north side of the river. As I went to water start, my knee hit something big and somewhat soft, like the side of a seal! I decided that's it, whatever that was I didn't really want to find out for sure what it was. Time to get in , and got on my board and went as fast as I could back to the launch near Lelia St. I wasn't sure at the time what the heck that was, but your siting would seem to indicate this seal was either checking to see what I was doing or was intent on catching dinner and didn't care what I was doing. In 25 years of windsurfing, that was a first.
Thanks for the wildlife report.
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nogybe



Joined: 15 Apr 2000
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 5:51 pm    Post subject: Sea lions at Sherman Island Reply with quote

One day last August I was talking to a sailing buddy between sessions at The Access. The conversation evolved to river critters and he mentioned that from time to time he had seen sea lions as far up river as the Power Lines. I thought he was testing the depth and breadth of my gullibility. Sea lions hang out in salt water, right? Confused

The very next day I was at The Access again planing nicely on the starboard tack. Just about mid-river a really big sea lion surfaced about 25 yards right in front of me. I think I startled the critter as much as it startled me - the sea lion quickly submerged and resurfaced about 20 yards up river heading for The Sign.

I have not seen one since.
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dennis_c



Joined: 05 May 1998
Posts: 656
Location: Rio

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sea lions are regular visitors to Sherman Island.
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bob1



Joined: 27 Apr 1998
Posts: 100
Location: San Carlos, CA

PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sea Lion makes sense b/c it was BIG and did some serious thrashing . . .

jdarnst, were you on the blue board w/ greenish sail?

If so, I jibed near you inside & we exchanged pleasantries briefly . . . did you see the mauling? It was pretty violent. I see sea lions and seals all the time at Crissy and down on the coast, but I've never seen one in fresh water and feeding with such ferocity . . . with the sinking sun it was a bit eery . . . glad I didn't run into the thing . . . still, was a nice afternoon/early evening sesh -- unless you were a sturgeon!
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sorenson



Joined: 04 Jul 1999
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 9:38 am    Post subject: Sea Lions Reply with quote

I've seen Sea Lions swimming up the main channel along Sherman Island. I've also seen a Harbor Seal, so it's not too out of the ordinary. Seeing one ripping into the carcass of a Sturgeon, though is a little scary! Just don't splash right in front of him! It probably was a Sea Lion...
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jjstien



Joined: 31 Mar 2000
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sailed up to a sea lion that was gorging on salmon a couple of years ago at the access. Got within about 50 feet and started to ask myself what the heck I would do if he came my way... These are huge animals, some over a 1000#

As to hitting fish... it happens to us formula sailors with some regularity, something about 70cm of foil at 25-30 mph. Sudden decelleration results in broken stuff and bodies... It's why you need a phone on you...
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madspaniard



Joined: 23 May 2005
Posts: 380

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to work at the DuPont Oakley waterfront site on the San Joaquin river, just at the foot of the Antioch bridge. From time to time we would take water samples from the river. As recent as last year there was a big group of sea lions living near one of the big red buoys. You can hear them from the Lauritzen Marina. This place is very close to Sherman Island.
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firefish



Joined: 31 Aug 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was sailing "little Baja" aroud dusk on a Tuesday evening a few weeks ago and spoted what I assumed was a sea lion or seal coming to the surface. Kind of freaked me out but then I thought about the shark I saw in Maui a few years ago and it put things into perspective. Lucky we have such great fresh water sailing!
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