Florence Honors the Menacing Sea Lion

sea lion statue - kikiIt appears some citizens of Florence have their hearts in a different place when it comes to the Oregon Coast’s current tendency of scorning sea lions. A group of artists in the seaside town have decided to honor the scourge of whisker-faced sea dogs, despite the fact that the animals have received death warrants from local fishermen and environmentalists alike.

As part of a regional art project created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Florence Events Center, several Florence painters—working alongside a sculptor—have decided to mold and bedeck 20 larger-than-life sea lion statues that will be placed alongside Highway 101 from Newport to Reedsport.

The irony of the situation seems lost on the artists, one of whom stated on a KVAL TV News segment that the sea lion she is decorating will create lifetime memories for kids traveling with their families to the coast.

“When I think of the future, I think of young children when they’re standing by the sea lion and looking at photos from days gone by,” said Marsha Horner, who is covering her sea lion statue with a collage of Oregon Coast postcards and postal stamps. So in love with Florence is Horner that she’s already sent several Oregon-themed postcards to herself, which she plans to paste on her sea lion.

Perhaps Horner’s status as a recent Oregon transplant could explain her lack of fear for a group of creatures that have created utter chaos in coastal communities like Astoria, where officials are at their wit’s end, struggling to ward off hundreds of increasingly aggressive male sea lions invading their docks to feed off salmon ladders.

The statues will be placed along the coast in the beginning of April and displayed for six months, after which they’ll be sold to individual collectors. It should be noted that the sea lion models are all female. Let’s hope the male animals emerging from the Pacific don’t start getting ideas.

By Kiki Genoa