20161010-Lippy's Pano





Things have been a tad wet over our way,so I thought I’d repost some shots. I took these originally on 2016 October 10. The spot is Rankin rocks which is east of Tofino about 5 miles or so down Tofino inlet. Tranquil’s valley can be seen in the background.

There are two types of Sea Lions we get here,Californians and Stellar’s . Cali’s are around 1/2 ton while their bigger cousins the Stellar’s  are twice as large at 1 ton. Cali’s are generally darker than the Stellar’s and of course smaller. Stellar’s always like to be King of the hill on any rocky haul outs. The Californians will be down lower close to the waters edge while the big Stellar boys rest further up.

For some strange reason this fellow was all by himself. Usually they hang out in groups,sunning away with their noses pointing to the sky.

This fellow and I spent some time together. I called him “Lippy” because his left lower lip is damaged. You can clearly see how there is a tear in the upper lip. I wondered why? At first I thought of a boats prop but decided that wasn’t the reason.  Propellar wounds have symmetry and repeat in pattern. Than I thought of a Fish farms predator net!

I’ve seen these guys get stuck in those nets before. They breath air like you and I and If they become entangled in the netting they can drown. The Lions charge the salmon nets hoping to grab a unsuspecting salmon! They push against the heavy nets trying to corral a bunch of salmon. Of course they cannot pull the much larger fish through the net squares,so they suck the internal organs of the fish right through the net holes. The salmon than sinks to the bottom of the pen net.

DIvers go into each pen every three days or so to see If there are any dead salmon. When they bring up perfectly healthy salmon with no guts you know there was a predator attack and it was a Lion.

Surrounding the fish farm site is another much larger net called a “Predator Net”(pred net). It engulfs the entire site and is about 10 feet away from the inside fish nets. Its designed to stop Lion attacks but Lions are always trying to get at those tasty fish! Sometimes a Lion will push the pred net in quickly to get at the salmon but get snagged. It looks like thats exactly what happened here to”Lippy” but he was lucky enough to escape with only face wounding.


    1. they are an imposing creature but for the most part not aggressive Emma. One thing in my favour was that Stellar’s tend to lay higher up away from the water. Which means they cannot escape very easily,so they generally don’t flee and stay put.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Noelle! I didn’t want to spook him so I went past him at a distance. I didn’t move as I went past. I than went back around further away from him and did the drive by again and again getting closer and closer.

    1. thank you Jane!
      Being a wildlife photographer the best piece of equipment one needs is your ability to observe. The first thing I asked him was “why are you all by yourself”? He was only there for a week max. They follow the food. None of his buddies were around so the pickens couldn’t of been that good or he’d have company!

  1. Oh, poor baby. He sure has beautiful golden locks hanging from him neck. Glad he survived the nets. He doesn’t look like he is skinny, so he must still be able to hunt to eat. Thanks for photo and story.

  2. Feeling bad for this poor guy getting tangled up in the net just trying to get a meal. Thanks for the back story on “Lippy” and his way of life … full of danger, and difficult for us humans to imagine.

      1. Yes it is Wayne – once a year on Earth Day we think about the environment and who we share this earth with and the rest of the year, it is everyone for themselves.

      2. that pretty much sums it up Linda.
        Its like Christmas…….people can purge their sins before the New Year by doing random acts of kindness. Its our way of blowing off the guilt steam……… and I’m probably just as bad as anyone else,but I’m mindful at least.

      3. You are right of course Wayne. I am guilty too, but mindful as well. Then there are people who go to church, then in the church parking lot they curse each other because someone took a parking space that they wanted or cut in front of them.

  3. Great pictures and thanks for the interesting story Wayne! We went on trips with a privat ship out of Ukee a few times, when we passed these guys all sunning themselves on the rocks making lots of noise of few leaping in the water if the boat got to close. It was so entertaining. Or standing at whiskey dock in Ukee listening to them honking under the dock. You guys live in the most beautiful part of Canada – not surprised we keep coming back every fall for almost 20 years! Happy Easter to you and all your furry and feathered friends – see you in the fall!

    1. such a nice thing to say…..thank you Diane! Each of my great shoots are basically me being around at the right time.
      The second last shot is my best Lion shot. I like how the background begs the eye to explore and Lippy seems to be posing big time!

    1. no,if they catch one they’ll come up to the surface and quickly flip their head to one side. That’ll tear a piece off. They do this because they have no hands like we do to hold the food and rip a piece off. The fish will go flying of course,they’ll swallow the piece they have and dive down to get the rest of the fish. They repeat this until they can swallow the remainder.

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