The sorrows rolled in fast and furious with the joys on a glorious trip south to Meg's and my first and most memory-burnished home (newly alive at every return): the sands between Scripps Pier and Torrey Pines Beach just north of San Diego. Hour by hour, we're swimming out together with other battered but dauntless souls into swells we've got no business trying to surf. We get thrashed on every third wave, but we pick ourselves up, brush the sand from our butt cracks (it's just not dignified, but we deal), then head back into the water. What choice does any of us have? Hugging the shore just doesn't seem a viable option any more.
We saw this little guy just make it into shore (it's a terribly rough winter for the new crop of sea lion pups) and did our best to keep him safe 'til Sea World could come for him. (Different organizations have set jurisdiction over rescues on different stretches of California coastline, and for all its well-exposed faults, SW has saved many fragile lives along its given span.)
He was maybe half the weight he should be, cut loose from Mom, exhausted and nursing a shoulder injury. Poor little dude was caught between the rising tide that he'd just managed to escape and crowds of people who (quite naturally) wanted to approach.
We made a sand cordon, patrolled it, and got intimately acquainted with the best (mostly best) and worst (depressingly worst) of human attitudes toward adorable and terribly stressed creatures. I can get a little fierce when lives are at stake, and not always productive in that fierceness. The words "Your fucking photo op is worth nothing next to this little guy's life" might have been uttered to dubious effect. And the guy who knew what the pup really needed was to be doused with a bucket of sea water (because sea lions are something like dolphins and maybe something like frogs, don't you know) had to leave shaking his head over my stubborn conviction that the best we could do was let him get dry and warm while being unmolested by our "help."
The most astonishing WTF? moment came from a guy in his thirties on a bike who chose to ride pretty much straight at the sleeping pup's head. When Meg tried to tell him he was much too close, he kept course, and yelled back to her (reassuringly, as he must have thought): "It's all good. I'm a biology teacher!" Stunning.
"Sanity is a madness put to good uses."
- George Santayana
Long story short, we bought him a couple of hours' worth of rest before a "do-gooder" harassed him back into the ocean... so he wouldn't fall into the evil hands of the "Blackfish" people (who had eight pups in similar states of distress they were doing their methodical best to attend to). She suggested to me that we "get a bag" and take him ourselves. TO HER BATHTUB?? OH, how ASSholes do VEX me! (Robin Williams in Richard Burton mode.) It was all I could do not to fucking chase her into the high surf after him. But I somehow restrained myself. We all sent up a collective prayer/hope/plea that the pup mustered the strength to find a quieter piece of beach so that he could eventually be kidnapped by Sea World for a couple of months' worth of herring smoothies and some help for his crunched shoulder.