Sea lion hitches ride on family kayak

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A Fullerton family got a Valentine’s Day surprise when a young sea lion showed them some love by hitching a ride on the back of their kayak during an outing in a Santa Barbara harbor on Saturday.

“At first it felt like he was pushing the kayak. We felt him back there,” said Rodney Gist, who was riding with two of his children near Stearns Wharf at the time. “Next thing you know, I could tell he had climbed aboard.”

The family became startled when they realized that it was a sea lion that had jumped up and plopped down right behind Rodney Gist.

“It’s a wild animal so we’re a little bit … interested in seeing how he would behave,” Gist said.

As it turned out, Gist needn’t worry about the young sea lion, which appeared to be simply looking to spread the love on the romantic holiday.

The pup — which the family named “Cecil” — nuzzled against Gist as it remained seated in back of him and turned out to be “really sweet,” the father said. The cute creature appeared at one point to even kiss the back of his head, video of the incident showed.

“I could tell he was kind of playful like a dog,” Gist added.

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