Baby Sea Lion Encounter

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It was one of those rare summer evenings when our kids were off with others and my friend and I were alone on a weeknight.  Impulsively we hopped in the car and headed for the ocean.  Within 45 minutes we had our feet in the quickly cooling sand and we began hiking in search of the best place to view the sunset.  Intuitively we were drawn to go south on the beach instead of our usual north.

A short distance down the beach, near where Salmon Creek meets the sea, we saw a young girl sitting in the sand in front of a reclining animal – a dog perhaps.  As we got closer, I was shocked to see that it was a sea lion pup that was obviously very sick.  It’s breathing was labored, it’s nose runny, it shivered constantly and was weak.  It appeared to me that it had a respiratory illness. Being a Jin Shin Jyutsu* practitioner I immediately put my hands on her and started to treat the pup in an attempt to strengthen her life force energy.  Her chi pulse was so weak it was almost undetectable.  From my many years’ experience, I knew she was extremely ill and probably near death.

People started gathering around, and kids poked at her before I could shoo them away.  Adults came by with advice like – “don’t touch her it’s bad for their fur” – “It’s OK”, I’d say, “I work with healing arts and she’s in bad shape.”  Others told us that they had seen this pup here a week before beside its mother who had died there.  The Mammal Rescue Center had been called but no one had rescued the pup.  We were told that it had been here all day on that day and while the park ranger had been called, no one had shown up.

Eventually there were about 6 of us left standing on the now cold and darkening beach trying to figure out what to do to help this young one.  The Mammal Rescue Center was an hour’s drive away, but we all felt that if we didn’t get the pup there she was doomed.  It seemed that Simon and I were the only ones with no dogs and a car that would accommodate the patient, so we agreed to do our humane duty and make the trek.  I remember saying a prayer for the pup (and at the same time being somewhat remorseful that our one childless evening would be spent driving all the way to Marin).

The next obstacle was how to get the pup up the steep steps of the cliff to the car.  While young and small by sea lion standards, it was still about 225 pounds.  One gracious man volunteered his warm ski jacket.  We placed the pup on the jacket (it rallied at this point and tried to bite.  We knew we had to watch out for those teeth).  Once zipped inside the jacket, we used it as a sort of sling to carry the pup up the cliff trail to the car.  We put the back seats down making a flat surface for the pup to lie on.  She was weaker now and didn’t even struggle as we put her inside.

Simon drove as I reached back and continued to treat her using Jin Shin Jyutsu.  We decided we should go to the fire station up the road and call the Rescue Center to make sure that someone could meet us there when we arrived.  Simon went in to call and I continued to treat the pup who I found quite endearing at this point.  From time to time I would take my hands away from her to adjust my position and each time she would struggle to raise her head and look at me until I began treating her again.  As soon as I touched her, she would lay her head back down and close her eyes.  This happened each time I took my hands off of her signaling to me that what I was doing was helping her.

After a while Simon returned and slid into the driver’s seat with a look of shocked disbelief.  The person at the Mammal Rescue Center said we were violating federal law by removing the pup from the beach and we were to return her immediately!  We were told that they leave the pups that they feel are beyond help and advised us to do the same.  We were speechless as this was absolutely the last thing we expected to be told.  The thought of taking her back to die alone and sick was just not an option we could grasp – as if we could get her back down the cliff anyway.   As we sat there trying to make sense of it all, there was a knock on the car window and the fireman told us the Rescue Center had called back.  When Simon went in I pulled out the bottle of “Rescue Remedy” that I keep in my purse.  (Rescue Remedy is one of the time honored Bach Flower Remedies – an herbal tincture that helps people, animals and plants recover from shock and trauma.)  I had never used it on a sea mammal before but I figured what the heck.  If they were going to leave her to die anyway, I’d give it a shot.  I put a drop on my finger and rubbed it on the pup’s lip. Then I continued to treat her using Jin Shin Jyutsu.  In about 3 minutes her breathing eased to normal, she stopped shivering and completely relaxed.  The change was so dramatic that at first I thought she had died.

Simon returned and said that the person at the Rescue Center had changed her mind and that there was a Rescue Center employee who lived there in Bodega Bay where we were.  If she were home and had a cage, we could take her there and if not we could bring the pup to the center.  Simon went back in and awaited her next call.  I continued to treat the pup who was quite relaxed at this point and didn’t move except to raise her head and look at me with those deep black eyes each time I stopped treating her for a moment.

Simon returned with news that we would be taking her to the Rescue Center.  He had been told to put the pup in a box and keep her flippers wet. (Great, how to accomplish this?)  We stopped at a local grocery to find a box, but there was really no box large and strong enough to contain her so we headed to the boat ramp at Bodega Bay to wet her flippers.

As we neared the bay the pup perked up, lifted her head, stood up and became quite animated.  By the time we got to the boat ramp, about 2 miles away, she was quickly going from side window to side window, extremely alert.  Her energy had completely changed.  Her breathing was regular, and she had stopped shivering.  There was no nasal congestion or discharge and no sign of respiratory distress.  She was now so active that we knew it would be extremely difficult to take her on an hour’s drive.

When we arrived at the boat ramp, Simon backed the car down so we were near the water’s edge.  We opened the back door and the pup immediately hopped out, leaned down and touched Simon’s foot with her nose. Then she began toddling down to the bay.  She would take a few steps, then stop and listen, very alert.  It was twilight and we could hear sea lions in the distance of the bay.  We would nudge her along as she would stop and listen every few steps.  When she reached the water we moistened her flippers and she just sat there attentive for a few minutes.  We stood with her, savoring this magical moment so amazed that this being who was seemingly on the verge of death an hour before was now so alert and seemingly well.  Without ceremony, she slid into the water and began to swim.  She went under and in a few seconds surfaced about 15 feet away.  She looked our way – it was almost dark but in the moonlight we could see her.  We spoke to her our blessings for a great life.  She went under again, and we could hear her surface and submerge again but could see her no longer. Then she was gone and there was only the calm lapping of the water.

The drive home was quiet, full of awe for this magical experience that we had just had.  To cross paths with one of nature’s truly wild creatures is rare.  To get to experience a healing with one is exquisite.

We will never know what happened to that little pup.  Did she live and have a great life?  Did she recover completely?  Did she relapse and die?  It’s a mystery that will never be solved.  We do know that just being with her was a gift from Spirit.

That night in our separate homes both Simon and I had dreams of her. We both saw those deep black soulful eyes of hers again.  Did her spirit come come to thank us?  Did she come to us as she died?  We will never know.

About a week later I was talking to a wildlife photographer friend of mine who swims with the dolphins and whales and who, it turns out, worked at one time at the Mammal Rescue Center.  She told me that a lot of sea lions had been dying of a respiratory illness recently. Interestingly she also said that sea lions are so sensitive, and bond so rapidly with humans that they have to be kept in a separate area at the center away from even most of the employees.

When I think back to this experience, I can still see those intense, dark black eyes looking deeply into mine.  Since then I have treated many animals both domestic and wild with Jin Shin Jyutsu, but nothing has compared to this …so far.

*Jin Shin Jyutsu is an ancient healing art that balances and unblocks the life force energy and releases deep tension so the body can heal itself more easily and effectively.  For more information go to

4 Responses

    • Jin Shin Jane

      Thank for your comment, Jackie. It was a great honor to have this experience!

    • JinShin Jane

      Thanks, Adrienne, it’s certainly an experience I’ll never forget~

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