Friday, November 24 , 2017, 7:30 am | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: People Show Admirable Desire to Aid Distressed Critters

One thing I admire about people in general is our desire to help critters. It is truly heartwarming.

Sure, we hunt and fish for food and that is a valuable tradition worth keeping no matter how hard we must fight for our rights to take fresh meat for our tables.

It helps keep us in touch with the realities of the natural order and reminds us how to be a part of the food chain that we are only one catastrophic natural disaster away from being immersed in once again.

Meanwhile, when we see a critter in trouble or just having a tough time of it, our softer tendencies are to aid and assist as best we can. I know firsthand how good it feels to help a critter out of a bind. I’ve helped whales, pinnipends, fish and mammals.

Thinking about those times makes me smile.

There are times when the softer side of people’s nature can be humorous as well as admirable.

One such time was this past week and a half when a pinniped hauled out on Goleta Beach and stayed out of the water for an unusual amount of time. It did get back into the water periodically long enough for the waves to keep it wet. A great many people were very concerned about that critter.

Just at my bait-and-tackle shack out on Goleta Pier, I had dozens and dozens of people come up to report a troubled “seal.” I can only guess how many hundreds of reports were fielded by park staff, restaurant workers and anyone else who seemed to have a job at the park.

Most folks knew better than to approach the critter closely, but many were determined to do something to help.

From my shack, I watched with amusement as a woman drove some stakes into the sand in a semi-circle around the critter and strung up pink caution tape. Having done her good deed, she left.

The critter stayed and watched the woman carefully as she toiled, but after she left the critter moved down the beach about 70 yards. I was really glad it didn’t get tangled up in the caution tape and have to be untangled.

I’m guessing that at the end of the day the park staff had to take down the woman's effort to help. I don’t mean to make fun of her. She was trying to help. Her understanding of the critter and the situation was a little weak, but she honestly tried to help.

The critter was believed to be affected  — temporarily we all hope — by domoic acid which is naturally occurring and cleaned up by nature in its time. I hope the critter will live though this, but nature holds out few guarantees.

It is indeed lucky that these days we have people visiting the beach rather than the visitors of earlier times, which might have included wolves, coyotes and California grizzly bears.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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