Call it “Fake Willy,” or perhaps “Fauxby Dick.” Either one could describe the fiberglass orca designed to scare sea lions off of docks in Astoria, Oregon deployed this week. What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, writes UPI’s Amy R. Connolly. It all started with a few stubborn sea lions. For months, hundreds of them have congregated on Astoria docks, “taking over the area,” causing damage and elbowing in on local fishermen’s livelihoods. The sea lion sit-in has officials scratching their heads — Connolly writes that they’ve tried everything from paint guns to colorful beach balls to send them packing. However, budget restrictions and environmental protections have limited the city’s ability to shoo them away.
On Thursday, the city called in the big guns: a replica killer whale named Island normally used to promote whale-watching cruises. The orca, which usually resides on a parade float, was converted into a boat and driven to Astoria from nearby Washington to do battle with the invaders. Connolly reports that as local residents brought out the lounge chairs, the boat was launched with a plan to play killer whale sounds and terrify the sea lions into leaving.
That’s not exactly the way it went down. The Daily Astorian’s Joshua Bessex documented “Fake Willy”’s epic journey on Twitter to hilarious effect as a comedy of errors unfolded in real time:
BREAKING: Fake Orca has capsized. Pilot has been rescued safely. pic.twitter.com/XJt5VQIbsS— Joshua Bessex (@Bessex_Joshua) June 5, 2015
They've righted the fake whale and it's still on it's way to the sea lions. Also, the Lady Washington is here. pic.twitter.com/6gZjYw3GfQ— Joshua Bessex (@Bessex_Joshua) June 5, 2015
Willy is belly up. Sea Lions aren't budging. It's over. pic.twitter.com/NgcUPVNhLF— Joshua Bessex (@Bessex_Joshua) June 5, 2015
Willy is being tied to the docks. Sea lions still aren't moving. pic.twitter.com/W6UH8Gxc4q— Joshua Bessex (@Bessex_Joshua) June 5, 2015
There’s no word on what Astoria’s next tactic will be in its battle against the dock-dwelling sea lions, but it’s likely the faux orca has seen its last day at sea.