Oregon city brought in the big guns to deal with the hundreds of sea lions on their docks: a fake orca. After electric mats and brightly colored beach balls failed to scare the pesky sea lions away, port officials in Astoria turned to a 10-meter-long (32 foot) motorized killer whale, but their plans went ‘belly up’ when its motor became flooded. The mission was called off and the fake orca was towed passed the lounging sea lions. Safe to say, the sea lions win this round.
"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," said Jim Knight, Port of Astoria executive director, Reuters report.
Dubbed at "Fauxby Dick" on Twitter, the fake orca, which emits whale songs, belongs to a whale-watching business from Bellingham, Washington, and was driven to Astoria. Orcas are a predator of sea lions, and officials had hoped the contraption would send them swimming.
"It really is a sign of how desperate the measures are that we're taking to try and solve this problem," Knight added.
The sea lions usually turn up in Astoria, a small town with a population of 10,000, in the winter and migrate once it gets warmer. This year, however, officials report that the sea lions that came in February have decided to stay.
Hundreds of sea lions are sitting on docks and feeding on fish, which threatens the town's commercial and sport fishing operations. Some researchers suggest the sea lions may have been driven to Astoria due to the warming water in the Pacific Ocean.
Knight warns that thousands of jobs are at risk if the sea lions don’t leave soon. The sea lions make a lot of noise and create “10 to 30 pounds (4.5 to 13.5 kg) of poop a day," Knight said. The Guardian reports that once the orca has been repaired, officials might try again.