What would you do if a sea lion wrapped its mouth around your head? Dr. Joe Gaydos, science director of SeaDoc Society, found out how he would react in that situation while filming a new YouTube series called “Salish Sea Wild.”
“Come with us as we visit the places, meet the people and learn about the wildlife that makes the Salish Sea one of the most awe-inspiring regions on earth,” Gaydos said in an introduction video to the series. “It’s going to be fun, fascinating and, oh yeah: it’s gonna be wild.”
The nearly 12-minute pilot premiered before a packed house at Sea View Theatre on Jan. 9. It is written and produced by Bob Friel, an author and documentarian known for his coverage of Colton Harris-Moore – the Barefoot Bandit – and stars Gaydos.
In the first episode, Team SeaDoc – Gaydos, Friel and Marcus Naugle, SeaDoc executive director – travel more than 230 miles from their home office to dive in the frigid waters off of Canada’s Hornby Island.
“We’ve taken four ferries to get here today,” Gaydos said. “Why? Because this is the best place in the Salish Sea to see Steller sea lions.”
Stellers are the world’s largest species of sea lion and are referred to by Gaydos as the grizzly bears of the sea. After exploring the area near a popular Steller haul-out for a while, the divers were eventually inspected by curious sea lions. The animals use their mouths and whiskers to get an understanding of what they’re seeing before them.
One sea lion enveloped Gaydos’ head with its carnivorous jaws to determine whether he was a friend, a foe or food. Another Steller – not featured in the film but was shown to the premiere’s audience – appeared to be quite taken with Friel, and it kept interfering with the divers’ ability to leave.
“She’s trying to get my attention. She spotted me from across the dance floor. Some people might say that’s aggression, I say it’s flirting,” Friel said. “I don’t know if she liked the blue suit, it matched my eyes. I have no idea.”
To see the first episode now, visit https://www.seadocsociety.org/salish-sea-wild. SeaDoc will release a new “Salish Sea Wild” every month.