I’ve lived on Vancouver Island for most of my 44 years and I’m thrilled that I can still be pleasantly surprised by new discoveries. Such was the case on Mother’s Day. Friends and I were exploring areas near Fanny Bay, a tiny little unincorporated town on Baynes Sound, about 30 minutes north of Parksville, which is known mostly for its fine and delicious oysters. The population of Fanny Bay is estimated at less than 1000 people.
It only takes a few minutes to drive through, admiring the small smattering of seaside homes and the laid back lifestyle that must be contained within. This quaint hamlet probably gets admired a bit less now that the Inland Highway by-passes it all together. You have to be going to Fanny Bay on purpose now. As I said, it’s famous for oysters, evidenced by piles of empty shells that line the coastline and the pub is pretty good. The FBI, or Fanny Bay Inn, probably has a few oyster dishes on the menu.
California Sea Lions Put on Quite a Show
But I knew all this stuff before Mother’s Day and I have for a while, growing up on the Island. What I didn’t know however, was that the Fanny Bay Dock is a prime location for watching, and hearing, a pride of California sea lions and that they are quite entertaining.
I’ve seen these creatures in San Francisco at Fisherman’s Wharf, a tourist must-do, and I’d go so far to say this display in Fanny Bay is on par…minus the amenities of souvenir shops, ice cream parlours and eateries, or a bathroom. The folks at the Fanny Bay Docks don’t seem too concerned with attracting a crowd.
You Don’t Need a Boat to Check out the Sea Lions
The sea lions, however, tell a different story. They lounge and use each other as pillows and there doesn’t look like there’s much going on. The sounds tell a different story. It seems as though a system of hierarchy and utmost importance is being played out for a human audience.
There’s always one or two sea lions swimming around the log pile barge, looking for a spot in the sun, like a cat preparing to jump on a lap on a couch and when the move is finally made, a raucous display of shifting positions ensues. It’s loud. There’s a lot of communication going on. This protocol seems to be repeated over and over again, without an apparent end.
The sea lions are close to the dock and you don’t need binoculars to take in the details. It’s easily accessible for all ages and has become one of the many, new, reasons that life on Vancouver Island really does have it all.
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