A company out of Coos Bay went to work early Friday installing new steel pilings which will eventually hold up a new sea lion viewing deck at Port Dock One as well as holding in place a new sun bathing and sleeping platform for the sea going barkers.
The project had some fits and starts for a while, but it all finally came together and we can expect a finished sea lion viewing area by this time next year. The delay was caused by red tape and other aspects of the project that made it impossible to get everything done in one fell-swoop. By state law there is not to be any “in water” working past February 15th. Even to drive these news pilings required special permission from state authorities. But once these are pounded into the bottom of the bay, that’s all the work that can be done until November later this year. It’s to not interfere with salmon spawning and other aquatic critter activities in the bay.
But once it’s done, it’ll be a more pleasant if not closer-up view of the sea lions which, much to the consternation of many fishermen, is the biggest single tourist draw on the Bayfront. Sea Lions may be fun to watch, with all their grumpy and sometimes silly antics, but they none-the-less consume copious quantities of salmon and other fish that fishermen contend belongs in their boats and not in the blubbery tummies of rambunctious pinnipeds.
Late this afternoon after all the work was done; the five new pilings standing like sentries in the water waiting for work to resume. That’s likely to be in mid-November when “in water” works can proceed – in this case, the extension of Port Dock One’s surface westward about ten feet for more convenient viewer access to the sea lions. It will also put viewers well out of the way of vehicles that use the dock to service fishing boats that tie up on the bay side of the pier. Down below there will be more floating real estate for the sea lions to climb on and sleep and roll around in the sun, rain and wind. The sea lions are a huge draw for tourists – a universally agreed “must see” when visiting Newport.
Sea Lion Dock Foundation spokesman Bob Ward reminds everyone that there are donation boxes at Port Dock One near the street for those who would like to further the cause of the sea lions. Once the new viewing deck and the sea lion docks are in place there will always be maintenance to perform to keep everything floating properly, safely and sound. It will also be the site where injured sea lions can be humanely trapped and be given the medical aid as required.