Sunday, April 15, 2007

Nibbles for Mayor! -- T-Shirts, Buttons, Bumper Stickers

I do sympathize with folks who have experienced the wrath of "Nibbles" our local, aggressive & rampaging adolescent elephant seal -- including the surfers, kayakers, dogs & little harbor seal pups who have been attacked by him. "Nibbles" received his nickname from one of his erstwhile victims -- a local surfer named Russell Willis.

For more information, please read Bob Norberg's article for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Nibbles outstays welcome.

Alas, my sick sense of humor has gotten the better of me. First of all, Mr. Willis' nickname, "Nibbles," totally cracks me up. I also found the challenge of creating an illustration of an elephant seal which could even be remotely appealing to be irresistable. Hence, I have illustrated & designed "Nibbles for Mayor" buttons, bumper stickers, & T-shirts & am selling them on the Internet at my new, online River Rattina store.

I asked a friend of mine who is a well-known surfer in the area but who has mellowed out (SLIGHTLY) since marrying his wife (who is also a close friend of mine) & having their daughter (a close friend of our daughter's), WHY his colleagues continue to surf at the mouth of the Russian River when they've known about Nibble's existence for years. He thought a moment & then replied, "These guys who are really into surfing ... if they get bitten by a shark & it isn't that bad, they'll go back."

I suppose this is more common than most of us would suspect. Royce Fraley -- another surfing cohort of my friend who also happens to be a close-by neighbor with a wife & kids -- was recently attacked by a great white shark while surfing & wound up in the hospital. The related article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Surfer reflects after shark encounter, describes Fraley's love & sense of responsibility for his wife & child, & desire to be more careful for their sakes.

This article totally made my heart melt, because I realized that there is also an underlying subtext: Mr. Fraley must love his family an awful lot if he is willing to consider the possibility of preserving his own life for the sake of maintaining the quality of theirs, even as the urgently reckless & insistent desire & need to master the waves -- regardless of the risks to his own mortality -- must surely continue beckoning him like an irresistible siren song to this very day. How long can he resist this ever-beckoning addiction?

And why IS Nibbles here & why has he come here from March-July or so for every year for 5 years? There's no elephant seal colony around here. Our eco-system is not set up for aggressive elephant seals. He considers this area to be his territory & defends it aggressively. Some folks theorize that Nibbles -- who is still an adolescent male & small compared to the adult males of his species -- cannot compete successfully for food & mates in a seal colony of his own kind & has hence wound up here as the local bully. Perhaps we can find him a mate & a new location & we'll all be happy.

But maybe not. Perhaps it's not so simple. A friend of mine told me about some radio talk show she listened to in which a Marine Biologist talked about studies on how deposits of neurotoxins in the ocean have disrupted life for marine mammals & caused them to become uncharacteristically aggressive, to abandon &/or eat their babies, etc.

Which makes me wonder ... how far are WE from abandoning or eating OUR young?

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