By Glen C. Paulsen
Laguna Shores Resort Resident

This is not the first time I had the great pleasure of rescuing a troubled creature from peril, but it was one of the most bonding experiences of my life between man and animal.

On Tuesday afternoon, April 23, 2013, Linda, my wife, and our two dogs, Tobey and Diva were out for a casual and usual afternoon escapade of ATV fun through the desert and onto the beach for a ten plus mile run. We live at the fabulously quiet and lovely Laguna Shores Resort, on the Sea of Cortez, and the adventure experiences are one of the main reasons we are here with our share of paradise.

As we set off on our adventure we waved at friends, Wayne and Lannette, and then went over the sand dunes and onto the beach. The tide was receding and apparently there had been some major wave activity as the beach was looking scruffy with seaweed and other natural debris, which is actually a fun time to explore for treasures. Normally I kick up speed using the four wheel drive for traction and whip along to favored spots, but for unknown reasons I turned toward the point of a normal upper tide line and quickly discovered – to our glee – a 6 ft. sea lion by itself. Its head was majestically raised and it was very guarded. Our Cocker Spaniel and feisty Chihuahua love to play with the sea birds and run after all that moves but when they saw this unusual creature they barked and wanted off the ATV but took to instruction and stayed in place on the back of the ATV. It didn’t take me long to concluded that this animal was in trouble. The tide was about a mile receded and there seemed little hope of getting the sea lion some cool water relief. My wife and I quickly drove the dogs back home and returned with camera in hand and my 6’ staff. I use it for stability and protection and the a thought suddenly occurred to me…that like Moses, I would lead this wonderful creature back to the “promised land” of the sea.

The sea lion and I were quickly acquainted and in relatively close contact. I talked very gently to the sea lion which I had now named “Cortez”. I emitted positive energy and spoke soothing words of reassurance and, after a few harsh barks and growls, Cortez, who appeared very stressed and tired, allowed me latitude. There was a small stream of blood on its head and I noticed a flesh wound on its nose. After more comforting words of assurance (and photos) Cortez seemed to understand that we were there not to cause harm, but were there to help him/her get back into the Sea of Cortez. It looked into Linda’s eyes with genuine thankfulness and alliance. At first, in an effort to keep us away, it did a sea lion drag, using its strong flippers sometimes up and then in a belly crawl. It was tiring and laborious, but it seemed to have as much determination as we did. My first goal was to get Cortez to some pools of water that were about 3” deep. Once I got Cortez that far the sea lion seemed to be in such relief. It was like water slide oasis for the sea lion as it slid into the shallow water and sipped at it frequently. We let Cortez lay for a time as it basked, rested and rolled on its back. I was extremely thankful that there seemed to be a trust developing between us and that was such a special feeling.

After a time I gently prodded it from behind with my staff. Cortez growled and barked at first and then it was like a loving friend which understood that we were there as friends and helpers. After that Cortez then moved with his/her head up most of the time and back hunched all the time pushing with its back flippers making a huge sand trail like the giant sea turtles do when they are returning to the ocean after laying their eggs in the sand. Cortez came very close to me – about 2 ft. – and we walked together to the next water oasis, which were sometimes deeper. Several times, Cortez rested and closed its eyes seeming to fall into slumber. What trust it seemed to have in us and in itself as its labor was very strenuous? I didn’t think there was any other way it would survive and it seemed to know that each laborious drag brought it closer to safety and home.

After about an hour of struggle with this 250 lb. sea mammal it wanted to rest so badly so we took two to three minute breaks and then would start again. Cortez even started in his/her own at times. We trudged and plotted forward the open water drawing nearer and Cortez held its head high. We came to an estuary with rippled water and now the “promised land” was close and a real rest was earned. Cortez rolled again but first rubbed its nose in the watery sand. After a bit of time the blood was cleared and nature for sure had provided healing and safety. At this moment we felt so close in spirit with Cortez, but now that it was safe it was time to say goodbye and God bless. Once we bid Cortez farewell we started on our own long trek back to the beach and to our Quad.

I felt this experience was truly a gift of God to us and Cortez and for that we are very grateful. I encourage everyone to experience life on the beach at Laguna Shores Oceanfront Resort in Rocky Point, Mexico where each day can be filled with unexpected gifts and experiences.