A baby sea lion recently showed a surfer off the California coast just how friendly it was, spending over an hour hitching a ride on his board, as the duo enjoyed the waves.
At first, Dan Murphy thought he was being attacked, when he felt the sea lion grab him from behind, according to the Daily Mail, but he quickly realized that the juvenile animal was simply “hugging” him after jumping on his board. The interaction, which took place on Sunday at Cardiff-by-the-Sea, off the shore of San Elijo Campground, set in motion an unusual and memorable experience that lasted for more than an hour.
The sea lion clung to Murphy’s back for the first 20 minutes, before moving in front of him and settling itself in his lap as if it were a puppy. For the next hour, the baby sea lion rode with Murphy while the surfer’s friend, Eileen Quintela, snapped photographs of the duo.
“You see those pups around this time of year, [but] I’ve never seen them interact with people like that,” Murphy noted.
As NBC News reports, the baby sea lion did not appear to be malnourished, leading Murphy to believe it may have been a rehabilitated animal from Sea World, released into the wild. That belief is further supported by the comfort that the juvenile sea lion showed around human beings.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) March 24, 2015
Recently, authorities have found themselves overwhelmed by an influx of malnourished sea lions, particularly young animals, along the west coast. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, rising ocean temperatures are thought to be responsible for the staggering numbers, as the conditions negatively effect prey animals that the sea lions rely on, leading to starvation. Over 1,000 underfed sea lion pups have so far washed ashore, more than four times the amount typically reported in previous years.
After Murphy finished surfing with the sea lion, he gently nudged the animal back into the water, an experience he readily admits was emotional.
“I was literally in tears,” he recalled. “I waved to him.”
Though forced to say goodbye to the baby sea lion, the surfer was left with a memory that neither he nor the pup is likely to soon forget.
[Image: Eileen Quintela via the Daily Mail]