Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Beware of Nibbles

But seriously, folks ... my "Nibbles for Mayor" merchandise is a joke, but the real deal (I mean, the real seal) is NOT. He's dangerous. Residents & visitors need to stay AWAY from his territory by the mouth of the Russian River in Jenner. For more information, see Paul Mc Hugh's recent articles in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Rogue elephant seal goes on rampage" & "Aggressive elephant seal menaces Sonoma beaches" (dated 4.23.2007 & 4.24.2007 respectively).

I can't BELIEVE the stupid stuff I see people do at the river's mouth & on the beach. Like allowing their children to play tag with the waves, kayaking into the harbor seal nursery, etc. What is it about sleeper waves, delicate natural habitats, & huge carnivorous marine animals do people NOT understand? Though I do have respect for those crazy surfers who know all about elephant seals & sharks & go surfing anyway (I assume they stay away from the harbor seal nursery).

We need to provide more education to our tourists. After all, our body of tourist literature does not describe the Sonoma coast as "wild" & "rugged" for nothing! I do not think visitors from places that face the Atlantic ocean -- or no ocean at all -- understand that this part of the Pacific ocean does NOT have a 400-mile continental shelf & that the water gets deep only a few feet out. Here in Northern California, the ocean is gorgeous to look at, but needs to be enjoyed from a safe distance. Inexperienced folks who want to wade, boat & swim can safely enjoy these activities at Doran Beach in Bodega Bay, on Johnson's Beach in Guerneville, or on Monte Rio Beach in Monte Rio.

As for Nibbles, I'm sad to say that he either (a) needs to be relocated to a place where he can successfully compete for a mate; or (b) needs to be "put down." Even if you're a confirmed wildlife advocate &/or misanthrope, it seems hard to disagree with this. The fact is that Nibbles the elephant seal doesn't belong in this habitat & is attacking many of those who do -- including the pregnant mothers of those adorable baby harbor seals with the big brown eyes who are so frequently portrayed in advertisements & brochures by animal rights & environmentalist organizations.

I feel sorry for Nibbles. He has been observed attempting to mate with the female harbor seals & attacking when they flee from him in terror (can't say I blame 'em, with that huge schnozz of his). He'd have better luck in Alaska, where all the other elephant seals are.

Until the Powers-That-Be figure out what to do about this situation (hopefully, they can come up with a humane solution), STAY OUT OF NIBBLES' territory until mid-summer when he supposedly migrates elsewhere.


The Rivermouth said...

Comments regarding elephant seal R-1, tagged with unfortunate, human-attracting and anthropomorphizing cuteness as "Nibbles" and "Ollie", are at complete odds with the body of scientific study conducted and available on elephant seal colony establishment patterns. Those patterns are known and recognized by such as the Marine Mammal Center and the Department of Parks and Recreation, the agency managing the Sonoma Coast State Park beaches. Research into the matter will easily corroborate R-1's behavior patterns, i.e., that his aggressiveness is symptomatic of normal seasonal high hormone levels, his solitary presence is consistent with that of sub-dominant males seeking to establish new colony locations, especially when populations of existing colonies to the south are "maxed out".

R-1 represents a very wild species that is in the process making a comeback from extinction's brink. It is part and parcel that the males of the species are very large, seasonally extremely agressive and brutal, and not at all endearing to those who would anthropomorphize carnivorous pinnipeds of any species into cuteness.

As for protection of tourists and other foolhardy humans venturing into his proximity: what is it they don't understand about "wild"? Warning signs and the expensive clutter of literature will not save the uncareful from their unwittingly foolish particpation in Darwin's experiment, a blind adventure so unfortunately exacerbated by such as front page media hype and the consumptive introduction of all-too-cute souvenirs offensive to many of those humans living harmoniously in R-1's proximity.

Keep it simple, folks. Stay home in the relative safety of your flat screens, and leave Jenner to be on the wild Sonoma coast. Those who respect nature will respect that she is very dangerous and not anthrocentric in her gifts.

Russian River Rattina said...

Thank you. Your information is interesting & obviously well-researched, & your point of view is both brutal & bracing.

The Rivermouth said...

Aspects of this blog item's preliminary comments may need be taken into account, even disputed, to better depict what naturally is available to such as R-1 (aka "Nibbles") before brutal human solutions such as "putting him down" are even given an iota of serious consideration. We need examine the premise implied in "The fact is that Nibbles the elephant seal doesn't belong in this habitat & is attacking many of those who do -- including the pregnant mothers of those adorable baby harbor seals with the big brown eyes who are so frequently portrayed in advertisements & brochures by animal rights & environmentalist organizations", and we need delineate the truth before anyone acts out of turn.

A truer fact is that elephant seals do belong in this habitat, and it is ultimately our self-serving ways that cause us to protest both their presence and that of other pinnipeds. This is well demonstrated by the posture that the designated steward of the area, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, shows simply by doing no more than to encourage the public to stay away from those areas where any pinnipeds gather. They all are, after all, carnivorous creatures; even the harbor seals and sea lions are able briefly to move faster on land than can a human, and they will if they feel their young are threatened. As humans manifesting our continual trait of denial or minimalization of conditions that run counter to our agendae, we can do well to remember that pinnipeds are threatened and suffer far more in response to our actions than we ever do at theirs, and that when indeed we do, it's likely because we've overrun the meager territories we've left on this planet for them.

What of R-1 and his interactions with humans and other species? The harbor seals certainly are threatened, but no more than they've been for thousands of years. They're threatened by such as killer whales, great white and salmon sharks, and yes, elephant seals. In recent years, they've also been threatened by fishermen with guns who assert that the harbor seals are a menace to their fishing catch and can therefore be "thinned". With such a relatively new development in the environmental scheme, perhaps the "powers that be" would do well to ask those in the institutions of education to make sure the public understands that wild animals continue to exist, and that we are a part of that circle of life that eats and can be eaten, attacks and can be attacked, and that if we seek relative safety, we need seek it in our homes rather than in those of our fellow creatures. In the meanwhile, when the male elephant seals return from their annual expeditions to Alaska with intent to meet the females returning from islands in the Pacific, let us stand back in relative safety as we witness the dramatic comeback and population increase of a creature that we humans savagely drove to the brink of extinction only several decades back.