I had never met them before, until they were carried in cages down to the shoreline at Alicia Beach, in South Laguna.
Hayden is an honorary member of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, and my pal, Judy, sent us the email announcing the ‘release’ of these Sea Lions from the hospital up on Laguna Canyon Road.
The day sun was hot, after several days of indecent rain and floods. We could see Catalina, appearing closer that usual. Hayden stopped at the top of the sand dune and said “Gammy, see the dolphins!”
There were dolphins waiting beyond the rise of the waves, as if they knew Hideaway, Sandy and Kung Pao would soon be joining them. The cages were lined up, the front opened simultaneously. Volunteers held up signs that said “Quiet” . . . so we wouldn’t make the seals [all women] nervous.
One by one, they exited the cages and looked out at the sea, then back to the cages. I am not going to put words in these seals mouths, but it was as if they might be asking “Really?”
The humans, with black screens held in front, slowly shuffled toward the edge of the sea, The seals gave one last look at the sand behind them, and scurried [can a seal scurry?] into the receding waves.
They swam away, not out toward Catalina, but parallel with the shore, toward a rock outcropping at the far end of the beach. “Someone will stay behind to see if they make their way out into the ocean,” we were told.
That made me feel better, sharing their freedom.