California sea lions chase bathers at La Jolla Cove in San Diego
As some people ran to safety and those in the water swam in the opposite direction, one woman watched from afar, capturing the incident on video and posting it on TikTok. “These sea lions made my day yesterday,” she wrote shortly before the footage went viral, generating nearly 11 million views on the platform.
“I started recording because it was really funny to watch, for me to see all these tourists getting blown away by these giant sea lions,” the woman, later identified as Charlianne Yeyna, told NBC San Diego. .
Yeyna said she was watching the ‘huge’ sea lions sleeping on the beach when a woman approached to take a photo and ‘got really close’ before one ‘woke up and started chasing everything the world”. Yeyna estimated that the woman came within a meter of the animal.
Sea lions are often spotted at La Jolla Cove, and visitors are asked to keep a safe distance. “Do not approach” signs are erected along the beach during whelping season in an effort to protect mothers and their young.
Eric Otjen, a sea lion expert from SeaWorld San Diego, told The Associated Press that despite social media comments about the creatures chasing bathers, Friday’s incident was actually expected and often seen for months. summer when the breeding season is in full swing.
“This behavior is not uncommon at all. The reason the video got around 10 million views is because everyone is running around like Godzilla is chasing them,” he said.
Otjen said the animals were unlikely to target members of the public and were instead fiercely preparing to breed.
“He has swimmers all around him on his way home, but they don’t bother him,” he said. “What this is about is her right to mate.”
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On social media, many who viewed the footage said they were proud “team sea lion”, praising the animals for chasing the sun worshipers.
“I personally root for sea lions,” read one tweet. “Someone call david attenborough on the phone immediately we need narration for this clip,” read another. (Sir David Attenborough is a well-known English broadcaster and naturalist.)
Some have wondered why city officials haven’t permanently closed the sandstrip, which has long been popular with animals.
According to the Smithsonian National Zoo, male sea lions can be up to eight feet long and weigh up to 600 pounds. Female sea lions can grow up to six feet long and weigh around 400 pounds. They are usually found clustered on rocky shores, piers and islands.
Sea lions are considered very territorial. “Breeding males and females with hatchlings may threaten and chase away intruders,” according to information shared by SeaWorld.
Unlike their wiser “first cousins”, the seals, which are known for their quiet growls, sea lions display a louder streak – barking incessantly – especially during the mating season, which extends from May to October.
During mating season, male behavior is “most aggressive”, experts say who say they push, jostle and chase to assert dominance over each other.
Earlier this year, the city council said it noticed a trend of harassment in the tourist destination, adding that attempting to take selfies with wildlife in Point La Jolla was “dangerous”.
No injuries were reported in Friday’s sea lion incident.