They don’t call them sea LIONS for nothing!

Fascinating, intelligent, and common as entertaining trained animals, we can’t forget that sea lions are still wild and have awfully big teeth and powerful jaws. They don’t call them sea kittens.

San Diego man recovering after sea lion yanked him overboard.



Dan Carlin’s wife told him to smile for a picture on their 29-foot boat as he held up one of the yellowtail fish they had caught that day. Then a sea lion leaped 7 feet out of the water, bit into his hand and yanked him overboard.

The animal, weighing hundreds of pounds, smashed the 62-year-old San Diego accountant against the boat’s side and sent his legs flying into the air like a rag doll’s before it dragged him some 20 feet underwater, Carlin said Wednesday, more than three weeks into his recovery after the April 5 incident.

It does appear that the animal was not at all happy that HIS fish was taken and that someone was in his neighborhood. Seals are used to getting easy fish scraps from humans. It could be that food is becoming scarce and the seals become bolder.

Sea lions and fur seals are of the family Otariidae, or eared seals.

Sea lions really are quite impressive – Tetrapod Zoology.

All in all, big otariids like Otaria are hefty and quite scary predators. One of my favourite mammals is the Leopard seal Hydrurga leptonyx, a species that is well known for its ability to kill other pinnipeds (including juvenile Otaria), large penguins, and even (on at least one occasion) humans. Sea lions haven’t yet been reported to kill a person, but Californian sea lions Zalophus californianus in particular have bitten plenty, with the number of reported attacks increasing in recent months (Berkeley marina suffered a spate of attacks in 2006).

And in 2007, a 13 year old girl was attacked while surfing. This site, SeaLion World, notes that attacks are rare and are due to the animals being both territorial and curious. Males especially have been known to bite swimmers. They are carnivores and should be considered dangerous to approach.
sea lion

  3 comments for “They don’t call them sea LIONS for nothing!

  1. Ronald H. Pine
    April 30, 2015 at 12:10 PM

    The article in Tetrapod Zoology, linked to above, and discussing, primarily, the South American Sea Lion, mentions the issue of what scientific name to use for this species. The author advocates use of the name Otaria byronia, rather than Otaria flavescens. In 1978, I published an article in which, among other things, I argued for use of the latter. I’ll have to look at some of the recent literature dealing with this matter, and cited in the Tetrapod Zoology article, in order to see what it has to say. The South American Sea Lion is the species which you may have seen in videos in which baby sea lions are grabbed right off the beach by Killer Whales which momentarily and deliberately beach themselves. Not far from where those videos were taken in Patagonia, I’ve seen a Killer Whale cruising by groups of mother and baby sea lions that were out on some rocks just offshore. No doubt it was seeing if there were any sea lions out in the water, thereby making themselves vulnerable to being caught and eaten. There was no way that the Killer Whale could have gotten at the sea lions while they were on the rocks.

  2. eleggua
    May 1, 2015 at 2:23 PM

    “It could be that food is becoming scarce and the seals become bolder.”

    It’s a certainty that food scarcity along the California coast is affecting sea lion behaviour.
    Here’re two other, recent stories:

    ‘Mendocino deputies save sea lion pup found on Hwy 1’

    ‘Wayward sea lion pup found in San Francisco lost weight since release’
    A sea lion pup is now in rehabilitation after police and trained rescuers pulled him out from under an SUV in San Francisco’s Marina District….

    Experts say a lack of food is driving these animals inland, and it is becoming a worrisome trend.
    This is not a story about one sea lion. This is a story about a trend. And not a trend in local waters. They’re saying this problem is global…..

    “They’re telling us messages about the ocean and the environment they live in,” Johnson said.
    It’s a message about big problems. We may be seeing one symptom through a record season of distressed sea lion pups.
    The Marine Mammal Center has treated more than 1,000 of them in the first four months of 2015. That’s as many as they usually see in a full year….

    Records show Rubbish lost 21 pounds in the five weeks since they released him. He’s another sea lion pup victimized by warming waters pushing the food supply out of reach. At this point, experts have ceased calling it a seasonal weather trend.
    “Oh, I think there is really good evidence that this is linked to global climate change,” said Johnson.

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