Sea Lion Pulls San Diego Man Overboard, Pushes Him Underwater

A hungry sea lion pulled a San Diego man overboard and briefly pushed him underwater. Authorities confirmed the 62-year-old man was injured in the incident. However, he is expected to survive. Witnesses said the sea lion was attempting to steal a fish from the man’s hand.

According to reports, the fisherman was aboard a boat in the San Diego marina when the incident occurred. Witnesses said the man was holding a fish, and posing for a photo, when a sea lion climbed up onto the boat’s deck.

Washington Post reports that the sea lion latched onto the San Diego man’s arm and pulled him overboard. The hungry mammal then proceeded to push the man underwater for an estimated 20 seconds.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Captain Joe Amador confirmed the man was eventually rescued by lifeguards, who witnessed the attack. The fisherman was then taken to a local hospital for treatment.

As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, the man suffered “lacerations to his hand and feet.” Thankfully, none of the wounds were life-threatening.

Authorities believe the sea lion attacked the San Diego man because it was hungry. Unfortunately, hungry sea lions are an ongoing issue along the California coast.

Between January and March, nearly 1,500 dead or dying sea lions were found along the California shoreline. Experts are blaming an increase in water temperature.

The New York Times reports that sea lions generally “breed and wean their young” on coastal islands. Ideally, the mothers will catch fish near the island and return to the shore to feed their pups. However, warmer waters have driven the fish further and further away.

@AmyRoseKathryn: 10,000 Dead Sea Lions Wash Up In California, Officials Announce Crisis http://t.co/dSPbqGz8nu pic.twitter.com/F1dfba8rnj” — Rhonda (@Rhonda_L_2011) March 30, 2015

As the mothers are forced to travel further for food, the pups are left starving on the coastal islands. With few options, an alarming number of pups leave the islands in search of food.

Unfortunately, a majority of the pups are simply too young to make the journey. Many pups die of exhaustion or hunger before reaching the California coast. Those who survive the trip are often too sick to recover from the harrowing journey.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman Justin Viezbicke said officials receive “so many calls, [they] just can’t respond to them all.” Viezbicke said there simply are not enough resources to save all the pups.

Although hunger likely drove a sea lion to attack the San Diego man, the incident was quite rare. Sea lions can be aggressive during the breeding season. However, they rarely attack humans without provocation.

[Image via Shutterstock]