Sea lion bites boy at La Jolla Cove

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SAN DIEGO – A five-year-old was bitten on his face by a sea lion Sunday around 1:30 p.m. at La Jolla Cove.

According to witnesses, the boy tried to pet the sea lion, and the sea lion snapped back its neck and lunged at him. People who saw it happen said the boy approached the sea lion from behind. The boy was taken to the hospital with minor injuries

Lifeguards it is rare for sea lions to bite people, but they may be more easily provoked during pupping season.    At least 2 sea lion attacks have been reported in the last 3 months, possibly because there have been more sea lions on the beach, lifeguard Lt. John Sandmeyer said. People should stay 20 meters away from seals and sea lions, he added.



  • The Seals of Nam (@TheSealsOfNam)

    Most unfortunate yet perfectly understandable. We hope the boy and his parents, and indeed everyone who reads this article learn a valuable lesson. Nature is not a toy. Would you allow your 5 year old to get out of the car and pet a wild tiger? How stupid could you be to allow your 5 year old anywhere near a wild sea lion? Just because it looks cute and friendly does not mean that it is. To all the people pictured in the photograph, you are in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and by being so close to the sea lion your behaviour constitutes harassment. You could have been fined (and should have been) if a wildlife official had been at the scene.

    • J. Jones

      @ The Seals of Nam,
      Please read the Marine Mammal Protection Act before spewing your opinion, by Federal Law, the MMPA states NO set distance one is required or maintain for Seal and Sea Lions , there is only “Guide Lines”. The City of San Diego is in violation of the MMPA for “Sheltering” and is to blame for creating this free zoo and inviting this tourist attraction along with Sea World for rehabilitating Sea Lions and Seals that Nature selected to be weeded out of the gene pool of weak or unfit animals.
      It’s not nice to fool mother nature…

      • Marlana Garcia

        Hey J. Jones, next time you need medical attention, please don’t bother going to the hospital. I’d hate to fool mother nature when she tries to weed YOU out…

      • Debra

        It shouldn’t matter, any one with a brain knows you don’t approach a wild animal. His parents should have been watching him. Duh!. People are so stupid

    • Jamie McCroskey

      Before you start telling people what’s in the MMPA you might want to read it, no where does it state a distance to be kept. Stick to lying about Namibian seals and leave the USA to people that care, How did your last DUI turn out? 40+ years old still living with mom…abusing drugs & alcohol, scamming people… what a great role model you are.

      • Alaska Marine Biologist

        Actually, the distance that MMPA states is the law. They use the terms “guideline” and “recommended” so people know about what distance they can view without disturbing or “harassing” the animals. If you disturb from greater than the recommended distance- you are still in violation of the MMPA. And you get closer than the recommended distance- violation of the MMPA. I admit, the wording is TERRIBLE and had probably confused many people.

        • John Leek

          OK, what is the numeric distance and in what section of the MMPA is it found? NOAA has published “guidelines” of 150 yards, 100 yards, 50 yards, and 50 feet, and NOBODY has ever been charged with being too close.

  • Andrea Else Hahn

    People do the most thoughtless things around these animals. I was once told by a La Jolla Cove lifeguard that someone actually put a cigarette in Sea Lion’s mouth. If only the City would allow these Sea Lion’s somewhere to haul out safely in La Jolla without having the public harangue them constantly, then perhaps they would not be on such a crowded and popular public beach. The Goldfish Point area and the La Jolla Cove Bluff were once off limits to the public, because people would fall off the cliffs as they are doing once again since the areas have been forced open in order to allow the public to pet these Sea Lions.

  • Cindy

    Guess he wont be bothering sea lions again. Where were the parents and why weren’t they watching this boy. Poor parenting and your child suffers. Thoughtless parents.

  • Pete

    It seems like you are all knowledge about sea lions. I think the attack from sea lions has been increasing due to more sea lions at the cove and children pool. This has never been a problem in the past. Can any of you explain why it is now? When I was growing up in La Jolla we used to be able to hike on the cliffs and swim where we want and there were no problems with sea lions.

    • suizou

      Explain? The kid came up behind the sea lion and the sea lion defended itself against the parentless boy. What more is there to explain?

  • Joe

    Where were the parents? Sea lions are wild animals and should be considered with the potential to bite as any other mammal its size, which is comparable to a large dog. Most kids would not be allowed to pet a strange large dog and that should apply to sea lions too. I hope the boy will fully recover.

  • Holly

    We were present at this beach when this happened and honestly it wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. The sea lion had been lounging on the beach, looking well and healthy, and the small child startled her as she lie reclined. When her head rose up, her open mouth clipped him on the jaw. True the child should not have touched him, but I wouldn’t equate allowing a child near these sea lions to allowing them near a tiger! That’s just ridiculous and really, LOL funny.

  • L.A. Marcus

    The headline should say “Parent allowed child to pet wild sea lion and sea lion bites back.” During my recent stay in La Jolla in March 2015, I was able to see lots of sea lions up close on the beach and I kept a safe and respectable distance. But I saw so many people getting too close to them to take photos and even saw a guy petting a baby sea lion. It’s called RESPECT for wildlife people. Just because there’s no fence keeping you away doesn’t mean you should touch or bother the wildlife!

  • Bruce Cunningham

    The ranger they interviewed recommended keeping 25 yards away from wild sea lions, maybe it’s time to lock up that gate above the cove and let the sea lions have some peace.

  • John Williams

    Why is it “unbelievable?” Hello? Wild animal! Not unbelievable. As natural as natural can be. Completely believable.

  • Hank A. Melville

    I blame the animal rights fools for this. Since the local gov’t is afraid of the insane old lady and her incessant bullhorn tactics the seals have gotten out of hand because that’s what wild animals do. We simply need to move the insane old lady, restore the cove to the children as that’s why it was built and chase the seals away, there’s plenty of coastline.

  • premita pillay

    Innoccent animal lover meets scared sea lion.Parents should be more watchful.The worst part of these stories is when an animal is shot dead for defending itself.

  • Mom of Three

    What kind of IDIOT doesn’t understand that these are wild animals, not freaking Disney cartoons? BAD BAD PARENTING.

  • Melissa

    I rather hope this kid’s parents get fined every dollar possible for violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Between the guardian(s) of this child, and all the people who saw it, someone should have hauled this kid away. One site that has picked up this story is running the headline “5 Year Old Boy Attacked by Sea Lion at California Beach”, perhaps that headline should read “Sea Lion Ambushed by Child at California Beach; Defends Itself Like the Wild Animal It Is”

    • Jane Cartmill

      Exactly, Melissa! You are right on the money. I think SeaWorld has fostered the fantasy that wild marine mammals are just big aquatic teddy bears that want to bond and play with you. No, they don’t, and here is your proof.

  • Jane Cartmill

    What the hell does this reporter mean, it is “unbelievable”??? These are huge, wild animals who are being relentlessly provoked and harassed. What does any sane person think is going to happen? The parent of this child should be prosecuted for child endangerment and the City of San Diego, and NOAA should be held accountable for permitting an open gate that allows the public easy access to the animals, in total violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Next time the child may not be as fortunate, and may lose an eye or a finger or worse.
    Is everyone completely nuts here? You can’t allow children near these enormous wild animals! How stupid can anyone be? And why in the world is the City of San Diego doing nothing to stop this situation?

  • seals suc

    You all need to realize seals are now way overpopulated and Sea World continues to mess with nature by rounding up all the sick dying ones and nursing them back to health and releasing them.
    Nature has a balance and it should not be messed with. This is only the beginning!

  • grey star

    I don’t want most people within a 20 meter radius of me, especially not a germy child of God. Little terrorist.

  • Dawn

    Where were the parents? Where is the accountability? Why was his face in front of a sea lion, hello? The sea lions are wild animals!! Dumb!!

  • dawndarling65

    What is unbelievable are the parents!! These are wild animals! Wow!! Why are the college kids poking these animals too? Wow!! Parents get a grip on your children. Sea lions, hence the name “lion”. Hello LION!!

    • Mike B

      More people are going to get hurt if nature doesn’t assert herself soon. These creatures will be culled by one predator or another inevitably.

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