See the sea lions at Cowichan Bay celebration

Barking and belching, Cowichan Bay’s resident sea lions have become a tourist attraction. - Andrew Leong
Barking and belching, Cowichan Bay’s resident sea lions have become a tourist attraction.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

The sea lions are here so Cowichan Bay merchants decided it's the perfect opportunity to use them as the focal point for a community celebration.

The first Cowichan Bay Sea Lion Celebration takes place Saturday and Sunday, with boat tours, specials at bay businesses and more.

"We're not calling it a festival,'' said Cowichan Bay Improvement Association president Patty Abbott. "Festivals include so many activities.''

People can take 15-minute tours (not a three-hour tour — sorry, Gilligan's Island fans) from the Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay to see the sea lions and cruise the bay free of charge. Boats leave the dock every 20 minutes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.

There are currently about 20 sea lions that have been in the bay for about a month. They typically stay between six and eight weeks depending on the salmon availability and the chum are running now.

The sea lions can be heard barking in the bay at all hours.

"A lot of people say they're smelly, they stink, they're noisy,'' said Abbott. "We've turned it around — they're great, they're fun.''

The bay is all spruced up and ready for the celebration.

"It's a perfect time to come down,'' said Abbott. "It's a great family weekend.

"We had a huge bay clean-up this week. We're ready for winter.''


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