Just before the Fourth of July, inflatable air dancers were installed on docks in the harbor to deter sea lions, but those who frequent the harbor say the inflatables aren’t working.

James Lenthall, vice president of Dana Point Boaters Association, said the sea lions never left.

“They don’t congregate on the harbor patrol dock where the air dancers are like they used to, but they are still in many other areas of the harbor, including on many boats,” Lenthall said. “All the air dancers seemed to do was send them away from the harbor patrol dock to other areas of the harbor.”

Just outside of Harbor Patrol Headquarters, four red, white and blue air dancers were installed in the beginning of July to keep the sea lions away.

“The air dancers are one element of deterrent options, and initally the air dancers had an immediate effect on the docks where they were placed,” said Marisa O’Neil, Public Information Officer with OC Parks. “The sea lions avoided the area around the air dancers. Sea lions would jump on a dock and, upon seeing the air dancers, would immediately leave.”

Previously, Lenthall said there’s a problem with sea lions on boats and docks in recent months.

The inflatables run off of a power supply on the dock, and run at $150 an inflatable. The county said the program was in the pilot stage and would reevaluate if it didn’t seem to be working.

“I’m in the harbor nearly every day and rarely do I not see at least a few sea lions on docks and boats,” Lenthall said. “It was a creative and interesting idea, but not as successful as we all hoped it would be.”

O’Neil said the county will continue to use this approach and monitor the effectiveness while exploring other safe options.

Sea lions are seen on the back of a boat in the Dana Point Harbor. Photo: Courtesy of James Lenthall
Sea lions are seen on the back of a boat and along a dock in the Dana Point Harbor. Photo: Courtesy of James Lenthall

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