By Monty Hasan | October 5, 2009
I’ve always enjoyed being out and about in the great outdoors, be it a simple walk in the neighborhood park, or doing fun activities like surfing and kayaking. And encountering wildlife up close (the more tame variety, that is!), in their natural habitat, is always interesting. I learned the hard way that just because a young animal looks adorable and cuddly doesn’t mean the parent isn’t lurking somewhere around the corner, ready to use any means to protect her young when in danger. Including overturning our kayak!!
This is a personal escapade of a sea kayaking trip in La Jolla, San Diego that I took with my son, Monty, when he 6 years old. Written in his own words, describing his worst nightmare (at the time). And yes, we survived unscathed, and I still talk “baby talk” when I come upon a cuddly seal pup… to this day! Although I must admit I’ve learned to keep my distance.
A rich blue expanse of the ocean, a sturdy and coarse rock cliff, and a sight of gray blobs in the horizon lying upon the rocks, it was a sight to behold. Kayaking when you’re six is quite exhilarating, and still is for me at this age. Back then I kayaked with my dad in a tandem kayak and it was basically his choice where to paddle to and so we kayaked along the perimeter of the cliffs of La Jolla Shores for about an hour until my dad decided he wanted to go farther.
Being a responsible and un-daring and un-adventurous eight year old I told my dad we weren’t supposed to go any further from where we were because there was a sign that said DANGER and PROHIBITED. My dad was always a careless and reckless one and told me that instance that the sign meant it’s for dads and their children to have fun around.
Soon enough we found out why it was labeled that way; the rocks were getting exceedingly more jagged and caves started to appear along the cliffs’ banks. Inside these caves were crashing waves slowly eroding the rock. We started to get sucked in by one of these caves and triumphed out of the current. We then paddled even deeper into the prohibited territory and reached an off limits reserve for seals.
Seals looked cute back then or just a bit but wow did they smell. After watching them for several seconds my dad wanted to approach them and pet them. I begged him to turn around because the smell was starting to make me dizzy but he made us trudge on towards them. We noticed a baby seal sleeping and we docked at least 2 feet away from it but still in our kayak. My dad yelled out, “Aww he’s so cute!” and woke him up. The seal was still disoriented from sleeping and began to stare at us.
He growled and started barking and snapping his teeth at us. Have you ever looked at a seal’s teeth from 2 feet away? Their pretty sharp, like a rabid dog. Anyways, he wasn’t cute anymore and saliva dripped down his snout and he was pretty scary for an eight year old. I was petrified and even more so as I saw a gray beast wade through the waters below us. It was the mom of the baby seal. Naturally like any mother would, it was trying to protect its baby so she swam beneath us and we thought she disappeared. Wrong. We felt a thump under us, then another, then another, and then a break. BAM! She hit us a fourth time and our kayaked rocked and I lost hold of my paddle, which now floated on the water next to me. I quickly picked it up and bawled to my dad to leave the area. My dad finally sensed the danger and paddled his all away from the reserve, past the prohibited sign, and back to where we rented our kayaks.
That was enough for one six year old to experience in one day. Sure if it happened to me at this age I probably wouldn’t have cried but if I went again I would definitely obey a prohibited area in the water. Of course now I do hate seals. Information on Sea Kayak rental: La Jolla Kayak