Although no sea lions were killed during my first visit to the Bonneville Dam, the memories will stay with me forever. One of the most disappointing events I encountered throughout the day were the dozens of visitors coming from all over to gaze at this breathtaking landscape and to ponder at the huge scale of this dam. Not one of them was aware that in this beautiful, scenic gorge, sea lions were being trapped and killed. For me, it is important that when I visit a place (as beautiful as it may be) I am educated about the history and environmental impact of the place. Many of the most beautiful spaces on earth are where some of the worst crimes have been committed to the land, to animals, and even to humans.
Being a Dam Guardian and defending these innocent majestic sea lions is important to me because we must shift the human mindset that ‘the world is for our exploitation, the animals for our consumption, and that we can solve our over-consumption crisis by blaming innocent animals, such as sea lions and the dolphins in Japan. If we want to truly solve the root causes of the issues we are facing today, blaming the dolphins, whales, and sea lions for “depleting the fish” is not only avoiding the real problem, it is making the problem worse. We must realize and accept that it is human overconsumption that has led to this catastrophe. The sea lions should not be blamed for our mistakes. Why kill these beautiful creatures who are just living their lives as they have been for thousands of years in the Columbia River? We have created dams and fishing technologies that have literally obliterated the salmon stocks, now we are shifting the blame from humans onto these innocent animals. We need to stop putting band-aids on the symptoms and instead look at ways to resolve the real cause of this issue- our culture of overconsumption and overfishing.