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A Strange Event At Zuma Beach

September 3, 2021

Zuma beach was a favorite hangout of ours in 1965. We were surfers from the San Fernando Valley and we favored this beach as it had what we called a “beach break” as opposed to the point break of Malibu. Back then we thought (rightfully) that beach breaks made you quicker in your responses. You never knew whether to go right of left until the moment you were hurling down the face of a wave. It was good practice and we loved every minute of it.

We also surfed there because it was not crowded. It was easily accessible with a large parking lot and it had miles of beach to explore. Our favorite spot was on the northern end of the beach; the southern end was a bit crowded with tourists and the like. Day after day we plied the eaves there, honing our skills for future endeavors at Huntington Beach, Malibu and the rest of the West Coast.

One particular foggy morning, six of us were surfing a medium swell of about four feet. An occasional six footer would roll in and we were keen to jump on board. When these larger waves came crashing toward the beach, there was inevitably a lot of what we called “white water,” that foamy stuff that appears after the crash of a wave. I remember well paddling out through this froth and enjoying the salty spray that it gave off.

We had exhausted the early morning and the six of us sat on the beach bullshitting and lounging about. We watched as the waves began to “close out” towards noon. The offshore breeze had gone and the whole Pacific Ocean appeared as just white soup. We watched as we sat about in our neoprene wetsuits as one wave after another disintegrated before our eyes.

At first, I thought someone’s wetsuit was rubbing against their board. I heard what I thought at first to be a squeak. I looked around at my friends but they were immobile as their eyes were closing from boredom. Then I heard the noise again accompanied by a bark of sorts. I gazed out into the ocean and I thought I saw a black spec beyond the surf line.

I strained my eyes then suddenly a California Sea Lion pup jumped out of the foam and headed toward our group. Everyone was sitting up intently at this point. The pup advanced, barking every foot or so. He came out of the water completely and strode up to us on the dry sand, yelping as he went along. Unrestrained, he approached our group head on. He looked at each of us carefully and then he stopped. His head whipped back as he finally understood that our group of wetsuited surfers were indeed not a group of his fellow sea lions. In a frantic pace, he made his way back into the surf within about a minute, yelping as he went along.

I have always remembered this strange event. In this life, I have been mistaken for many things but only once for a sea lion!

For more surfing stories, read my book: Fifty Years Ago – A Surfing Trilogy: And Other Surfing Stories from the 1960’s

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  1. Jim rogers permalink

    Allen That’s A Good story.. I use to Scuba Dive there for Halibut and Pismo Clams.. But I Did A Lot of Fishing at Point Doom the Southern end of Zuma.. One time when we went there the place had a bunch of Movie sets on the beach there was a Guard Said it was for the Planet of the Apes .. As much time as we spent there along the Coast it’s Neat to see the different Locations of the Coast that are used for Movie Shoots and TV Commercials . That’s About the Only thing I Miss about living hear in Iowa is the Coast and the Ocean .. Living there in HB for 35 or so years until the very end of my stay there My Wife and I would always drive along the Coast .. Loved the Smell of the Salt water . IT Sure has Changed over time…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story. At least a passing shark did not mistake you for a seal sausage.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a good one. Kind of like the time I was bow hunting and a fox squirrel came up to me and jumped on my leg. I moved enough and made enough noise that he realized I wasn’t a tree stump, despite the Realtree camouflage I was wearing. I don’t know which of us was freaked out the most. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Why you old sea lion, you . . . who knew? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 🙂☀️🌴🏄🏻‍♂️🏖☀️😊

    Liked by 1 person

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