The Sociable Sea Lion Pup
(A Story About Making Friends)

On the coast of California,
In a place called Monterey
Where icy waters circulate
In a shallow, shell-shaped bay,
From a big and sandy beach
The spouts of humpback whales can be spied
While other whales migrate South
The humpbacks here reside.

And who can really blame them,
For calling Elkhorn Slough their home,
For with all the anchovies they can eat
Why would they need to roam?
And there are scores of dolphins too,
Perhaps ten thousand or more!
Pursuing clupeid fishes up and down the windy shore.

And in the shelter of the harbor (always favoring the lee),
Is my favorite of all ocean-folk and the king of all the sea!
The precocious protagonist of this tale that I am here to tell,
Is a young Zalophus californianus
Who swam under, astride, and atop the ocean swell.
This gregarious pinniped,
Like any healthy sea lion pup,
Was wont to bark and loved to play,
He would spin and twirl in the surf
Among the rocky reef and spray.

Now he shared his little seaside world
With a solitary sea otter
Who instead preferred to be alone,
On his solemn quest for sea urchins
That he’d crack open with a stone.
And thus, the sea otter’s solitary hours were spent,
Carefully crushing echinoderms,
As along the rocky coast alone he went.

One day the sea lion spotted the otter
Floating coolly on his back,
Deeply absorbed in his task,
Between the swale and slack.
The sea lion, on the other flipper,
Being a sociable little runt,
Although he too had to feed
Preferred to play than hunt!

And when the bigger pups had left the Bay
The sea lion went up to the busy otter
And said, “hello my friend, would you like to play?
You see, my mother is out fishing
For salmon, herring, and hake,
And I was fishing too but I’m ready for a break!
My brothers have all gone out to sea
And my father is sunning and snoring,
And I have found that living here
Can be a little boring.”

But the otter turned onto his belly
And he coolly dipped away
Leaving the young sea lion wondering,
“Why did he not want to play?”
The following day the sea lion pup
With a whiskered and wistful smile
Asked the lonesome otter, “would you like to play awhile?”
But the otter only raised a furrowed brow,
And baring his long and pointed teeth,
Said, “excuse me very much good sir,
But I have important business on the reef.”

The next day, the sea lion pup,
Splashing and spinning all around
Approached the otter barking out,
“Hey! Look what I have found!”
In his teeth he held a bright red octopus
That he would toss up into the air,
“These are a tasty snack! He said,
“Would like to share?”

“For the love of urchins!”
Said the angry otter, “You really are a puzzle,
Please wipe that predatory grin
From off your smelly sea lion muzzle!”
But the pup was not offended,
(Or not to be he just pretended),
Then he dove down near the otter
To help him look for urchins too,
And when the otter spotted him below
He bubbled forth, “again!? Not you!”

And so, it was the following day,
And the next one too, and indeed for an entire week,
That the sea lion asked the isolated otter
In his pleasant, puppish speak,
“Hello Mr. Otter, what are you doing today?
I was wondering, well would you like to…”

And then the otter yelled…


Now the sea lion pup and the sea otter
Can be seen playing each day,
In fact, they are the very best of friends in Monterey!
And the moral of the story is that if you need to make a friend,
Don’t be discouraged, no don’t give up,
But be playful and persistent
Like the friendly sea lion pup.