Ah, to Be Young, in Love, and Freakishly Huge

Outside magazine, June 1996


Ah, to Be Young, in Love, and Freakishly Huge


"He's a mistake of nature," Robert DeLong states plainly, like a seasoned district attorney. "He's been so destructive. I feel this is the best way." The accused in this case is a 1,600-pound California/Steller sea lion hybrid, and the crimes are grisly. DeLong, a pinniped expert with the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, says the animal has killed at least 30 female sea lions each summer for the last five years near California's Channel Islands. The search for the culprit ended abruptly last June, when DeLong spied a killing in progress: The hybrid was trying to mate with a purebred Californian one-tenth his weight and was crushing her into the rocks. DeLong's solution? Kill the creature when it returns this month and study it in the lab. Surprisingly, no one has spoken up in defense of the blubbery Lothario--yet. "But I've got to apply for a permit," admits DeLong. "I'm sure someone will oppose this."

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