It was supposed to be just another day of fishing for a 62-year-old man, but a hungry sea lion had other plans, snatching away his "trophy fish" as he was posing for a picture with it.
After a day out fishing in San Diego, the man simply wanted a picture with his catch, but a sea lion took advantage of this chance, seeing it as an opportunity for some free grub. To get to the fish, the sea lion jumped out of the water, landing onto the boat's railing. It then bit the man during the struggle for the fish, pulling him underwater in the chaos.
The man was dragged by the sea lion to the bottom of the bay before he was able to free himself, rising to the surface where his companions were waiting for him. He was pulled aboard the boat and taken to the hospital to be treated for cuts to his feet and hands. The man also received treatment for shock.
The incident occurred as the man's boat was nearing the Hyatt Mission Bay Marina. The water was around 20 feet deep where the boat was, and those who saw what happened said the victim was under the water for 15 to 20 seconds.
Other witnesses said the man was cleaning some fish before the incident and that throwing guts overboard was what attracted the sea lion to the boat.
Hungry sea lions continue to be a problem in California, with many finding themselves stranded on the beaches emaciated. Pups in particular are washing ashore in record numbers, with rescuers reporting taking in more sea lions in just the first few months of 2015 compared to numbers usually logged for a year.
Warming waters brought about by global warming and climate change is one of the major reasons scientists believe are causing sea lion pups to strand. Warmer waters push fish that sea lions eat to swim farther, causing mothers to be away from their pups longer than usual when they search for food. This means pups are not nursing as long as they should before venturing into the water, making them too small and weak to find their own food.
Stranded sea lions are cared for by various marine organizations until they are well enough to be released back in the water. Pups have to meet a certain weight requirement as well before they can be released back in the wild, ensuring they are big and strong enough to survive on their own.
Photo: John Morgan | Flickr