Swimmer Tried to Scare Off Sea Lion. It Didn't Work

Man hospitalized after being attacked by sea lion
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2017 2:44 PM CST
Swimmer Hospitalized After Sea Lion Attack
In this Sept. 1, 2004 file photo, a sea lion sits on a waterfront dock in Astoria, Ore.   (Brent Wojahn /The Oregonian via AP, File)

A swimmer in San Francisco required multiple tourniquets and a trip to the hospital after being attacked by a sea lion Thursday, Fox 10 reports. According to the BBC, the 56-year-old man was swimming in the Aquatic Park area when he was approached by a sea lion. Police say he tried to scare away the animal by splashing water on it and yelling at it. Instead of leaving, the sea lion bit the man's right arm. He was rescued by a passing sail boat, which called the Coast Guard, the Los Angeles Times reports. “The boat saved his life,” San Francisco Police officer Matthew Reiter says. “Had that boat not seen him, this could have been a different story.” The man seemed to be doing OK, all things considered. “He was more worried about his clothes on the beach than he was about anything else,” Reiter says. “It was a good sign.”

While sea lion attacks are rare, they aren't unheard of. Reiter says he hasn't seen a sea lion attack in two years on the marine unit. But swimmers in the area say they've been noticing more sea lions in the area recently, and a 2015 study found 10 incidents of sea lions or seals biting swim club members in San Francisco over a period of three years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that sea lions are "unpredictable and can become aggressive quickly." Still, Dr. Claire Simeon, the lead researcher behind that 2015 study, tells Fox she doesn't "think that people should be afraid to go into the water." She adds: "We're lucky to be able to share our coastline with these amazing animals." (More sea lions stories.)

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