Sam has been present on the Columbia for several years, at least. I've watched him thrill tourists in Astoria with his powerful voice and his friendly manner. He routinely sits on the dock there, with his head leaned back in the classic "circus seal" pose, basking in the sun. But when people call out to him, he cocks his head to the side, opens his huge eyes, and looks at them curiously. If they continue to talk to him, he eventually opens his mouth and barks chattily back. He's always been extremely gregarious that way.
I've also seen this guy swirling through the waters near St Helens, often happily laying on his back with his flippers in the air, talking to anyone who will listen. Many of us on the river know him. He belongs out here. And he deserves to live a free and wild life, as do all of the Columbia river sea lions.
If this neighbor of ours is executed by the State, I do not think I can ever forgive the fishermen who clog the waterways and kill all the salmon, whose voices have called for this to happen.