'The most bizarre thing I'd ever seen': Vancouver Island man spots sea lion along logging road
COURTENAY -- He’s seen elk, deer, bears and cougars during his travels on remote logging roads on Vancouver Island, and now Greg Clarke can add a sea lion to his list.
“I came around the corner on my way home and there was a sea lion in the middle of the road,” he told CTV News on Tuesday.
Clarke came across the sea lion along the long, twisting road to Holberg on the north end of the island on Monday around 2:30 p.m., and managed to capture the encounter on video.
“In the video you can see that he’s hopping towards me and that’s an aggressive posture, basically. He was feeling threatened by my truck so I backed off but at the same time he started coming towards me pretty hard,” Clarke said.
Clarke was in the area to do maintenance on a radar station and was stopped by a road maintenance contractor on his way into the site. He was told to be careful to not hit the marine mammal along the road.
“I basically thought he was smoking some doobies or something,” said Clarke. “But no, I know the young fellow pretty well so I took his word and then he showed me a picture of it but it was very foggy picture.”
Clarke thought nothing more of it, did his work on the station, and then had his own encounter with the animal on his way out of the region six hours later.
Clarke says the mammal charged at his pickup a couple of times, but he was able to avoid it. Then, when it turned around to face him again, that’s when he captured his video.
“It was probably the most bizarre thing I’d ever seen,” said Clarke.
He speculates that the sea lion was about three kilometers from where the mammal would have gotten out of the Holberg Inlet and then became lost.
“We suspect that he swam up the old Holberg Inlet and then came up the Goodspeed River as far as he could go there and then for some reason got out or got confused and then he just started going up the road,” he said.
Clarke then did his own part to notify oncoming traffic about the sea lion. He says he got the same response from drivers that he’d shown to the contractor earlier in the day.
“Then at that point they thought I was smoking doobies right? People look at you like you have three or four heads,” he said.
Clarke says he couldn’t rule out the possibility that the lost animal was actually looking for a lift.
“I didn’t see his thumb, but I think he was hitchhiking,” he said.
Clarke did report the encounter to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who had already been previously alerted to the strange location of the animal.
“The animal is moving in the right direction back to the ocean and as of yesterday afternoon, the animal was within 500 meters of the creek we believe he came up,” said Paul Cottrell, Pacific marine mammals coordinator for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Cottrell says there are people monitoring the animal’s progress and it’s hoped it will make its way back to where it belongs.
“If the animal does not find his way back to the ocean we will look (at) responding and help him get back to the ocean,” he said.
Cottrell says despite being in the forest. the correct terminology for the mammal remains a sea lion, not forest lion.