Well that didn’t go as expected.
A fake orca brought in to scare sea lions from the port in Astoria, Oregon instead flipped over, filled with water, nearly sank and didn’t do a thing to rid the town of the animals, which locals say are basically the worst visitors ever.
The sea lions, which used to visit only for the winter, have instead stuck around this year and taken over local docks. They’re eating all the fish, preventing people from reaching their boats, and leaving behind lots of poop.
The fiberglass orca — which is actually a boat named “Island” with an operator inside — resembles the predator known to snack on sea lions. It even has speakers that can play orca sounds.
But the sea lions seem to know a fake when they see one, because they haven’t budged.
It probably wasn’t too hard for them to figure it out, as not many real orcas get flooded by a passing ship and have engine trouble.
— KOHR HARLAN (@kohrhKOIN) June 4, 2015
And typically, the only orcas who do this are no longer a danger to sea lions:
— National Post (@nationalpost) June 5, 2015
If a fake orca could be humiliated, this would be the ultimate indignity:
— Mark Hanrahan (@mark_hanrahan) June 5, 2015
Eventually, the fake orca threw up its fake flippers in a real surrender… at least for now:
— KOIN News (@KOINNews) June 5, 2015
Time reports that the community has already tried using brightly colored balls to scare the sea lions away, and even tried putting down electrified mats.
So far, nothing has worked, and town officials say the problem is no laughing matter. Port of Astoria Executive Director Jim Knight told Reuters that each sea lion leaves between 10 and 30 pounds of poop per day.
“It really is a sign of how desperate the measures are that we’re taking to try and solve this problem,” Knight told Reuters. “We simply don’t have the financial resources to build barriers. We have no choice but to look for very creative and low cost solutions.”
While most observers report on social media that the sea lions seemed completely unintimidated, one port employee said the animals did react to the fake orca/boat dubbed “Fake Willy.”
“They got very quiet, and we observed several sea lions leaving the area,” Robert Evert, permit and project manager, told KATU. “They actually swam around the break water and went out into the open river, so it’s not a complete fail.”
The town plans to try its ploy again over the summer.
“We’re excited and can’t wait for round two,” Knight told the Associated Press. “The battle is not over. Willy will be back.”
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