"The sea is the universal sewer." — Jacques Yves Cousteau, Oceanographer
We’re really into the majesty of the ocean. We’ve honored countless animals, like the perfect octopus and the dainty seahorse. We also adore any time spent on the ocean, surfing or sailing. But the sea has a dark side — and no, we’re not talking about the fictional dark side like the kracken or mermaids. We’re not even talking about what lies below the surface, deep in those darker depths that divers and explorers alike fear to go. The ocean can be dark right here on the surface, as shown this last week when a sea lion, at first seeming playful, reached up, snagged a little girl by her shirt, and violently yanked her into the water.
It’s one of those moments that becomes infamous the minute someone uploads it to social media — which at this point can be within the same 20 minutes as the incident itself. The video immediately went viral, first across various platforms and now across news sites. Tourists all along the dock in Richmond, British Columbia, reacted immediately, and the girl’s grandfather dove into the water to save her. Speculation of what the family might have done to entice the beast started immediately — Did they feed it? Why was she so close? But the truth is, animals are animals. They don’t act maliciously or even with ill intent, they simply follow their own base, natural instincts.
That doesn’t keep us from relating to, emoting with, and assigning meaning to these creatures though. Sea lions, like their other pinniped cousins the otter and the seal, have become a plucky, playful image of what some folks consider the puppies of the ocean, thanks to their button noses and playful Sea World antics. This has led to a lot of spirit animal-esque feelings among the more water-oriented among us, and sea lion tattoos are, of course, the natural next step.
So remember, while you might really feel a kinship with these joyful, flippered beasts — they are, indeed, still beasts. You can have a nice sea lion tattoo while also respecting that these are hungry critters bent on eating and living their lives.