The sea lion, mother nature’s way of telling you that it’s perfectly natural to be fat, happy, and roll around in the sand all day. These generally passive creatures can weigh around 600 pounds, are fairly intelligent, and in general are pretty adorable. But, they ARE 600 pounds. And have teeth. So as adorable as they might be, maybe it’s not a good idea to get one angry. How dangerous could an angry sea lion be? Well a bunch of beach goers at La Jolla Cove didn’t wait to find out.
A witness at the scene noticed a woman approaching a resting sea lion in order to grab a picture of it. [This is a monumentally bad idea. Don’t be like this person. Leave the local wild life, whatever size, alone.] This didn’t sit well with the napping mammal, who woke up in a cranky mood and gave chase to the aspiring nature photographer. Another sea lion joined in the pursuit and the results of it can be seen in a now viral TikTok video.
Actual attacks and injuries from sea lions are rare. In 2019, a sea lion bit a 13-year-old girl, causing a deep wound. She was treated and seemed to suffer no permanent damage. Later testing showed the sea lion was suffering from domoic acid poisoning. This syndrome is caused by the build up of toxins in an animal’s body when it ingests smaller aquatic creatures that have ingested toxic algae. This neurological damage can increase aggression, which likely caused the bite.
Summer is mating season for many aquatic mammals, and perhaps these critters were just acting territorial. Eric Otjean from SeaWorld San Diego posits a different theory though. He believes the two seals- both males-are sparring with each other over potential mates. It is indeed the breeding time for sea lions, but the territorial aspect would be between the two seals, and not so much the presence of the humans.
Regardless of why this happened, the sight of people fleeing from two waddling masses of blubber is hilarious. If you don’t know the behavior of sea lions, it’s probably a good idea to get the hell out of their way. But maybe next time coordinate with other people, so it doesn’t look like you’re all fleeing from a zombie apocalypse.