Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

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nwscubamom
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Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by nwscubamom » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:12 pm

A friend of mine recently returned from a dive trip on the Nautilus explorer.
For the 2nd trip in a row, she had a not-welcome encounter with a Steller Sea Lion. (last time divers were bit multiple times on their heads - through their hoods, even drawing blood on one guy's head )

This time she had one come from behind her - bite her head, ripping off her hood AND her mask in one motion - and in the process removing her regulator from her mouth. She managed to get her reg back in pretty quickly, and luckily was next to a wall, so was able to ascend, although with blurry vision, and not able to see her gauges. She wears contacts and managed not to lose them somehow.

Thankfully she had a spare mask and hood on the boat and was able to do the last dives of the trip after that one.

And she says she can still feel the teeth marks on her scalp.

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spatman
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by spatman » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:25 pm

yikes! that's scary! glad she's ok.

where were they diving?
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nwscubamom
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by nwscubamom » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:28 pm

It was on the Nautilus, so I would guess either really northern BC or southern Alaska - probably the latter.
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by nwbobber » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:32 pm

Yikes. I'm glad she has no serious injury. I have heard this before regarding Steller Sea Lions. I do not recall hearing about Cal. Sea Lions behaving this way. I wonder if there is a difference in the two species behavior that makes the Northern variety more aggressive.
I recently had an interaction with a harbor seal nipping at my fins, I actually enjoyed that, but I suppose it could have been another part of my body, and not so much fun. I guess we have to remember they are wild animals, and we can't always predict how they will behave.
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by nwbobber » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:43 pm

I just looked at sea lion behavior on the interwebs, it says that the mating occurs 10 -14 days after the female gives birth, which occurs from may to mid july. That would put them in the middle of the breeding season, in which males "aggressively defend their territory". This may not be a good time to dive in their neighborhood.
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by oldsalt » Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:03 pm

I have been the recipient of a number of rather rough sea lion encounters. The most notable was on the clay ledges at Mukilteo's Lighthouse Park. I was looking in all of the cavities in the bank for critters and noticed sediment falling over the edge. I stuck my head up and saw a California sea lion belly whumping down the slope. Just then another hit me from behind. I spun around to look at him and was hit by a third. All together, I had five of them mobbing me like swallows on a cat. Air consumption went up. I decided to exit the water swimming toward the shore, staying on the bottom, and the current carrying me down the shore. They continued to harass me until I reached shallow water. I exited way down the beach from my car. As I trudged back toward my car, they swam along parallel to the shore staying with me and watching me. An ethologist told me that they express playfullness this way. I didn't care. I don't like being the chew toy for a 500 lb animal. I have had other "attacks" by sea lions, but never when diving with a buddy, only on solo dives. Stellar sea lions are bigger, scarier, and more aggressive. I have more stories.
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by ktb » Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:48 pm

nwbobber wrote:I guess we have to remember they are wild animals, and we can't always predict how they will behave.


Hear hear!! Something to remember about all of the wildlife we encounter below.
Kelly

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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by H20doctor » Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:18 pm

id still dive with them... just because it happened to someone, doesnt mean it thats way always... whats the point of this thread ? really ...?
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by Sounder » Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:04 pm

H20doctor wrote:id still dive with them... just because it happened to someone, doesnt mean it thats way always... whats the point of this thread ? really ...?


That you should carry a spare mask and practice no-mask ascents with your buddy before diving with horny sea lions?
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by H20doctor » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:13 am

Sounder wrote:
H20doctor wrote:id still dive with them... just because it happened to someone, doesnt mean it thats way always... whats the point of this thread ? really ...?


That you should carry a spare mask and practice no-mask ascents with your buddy before diving with horny sea lions?

yep, that's it.. And dont dive with lions mane jelly fish..
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renoun
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by renoun » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:29 am

H20doctor wrote:yep, that's it.. And dont dive with lions mane jelly fish..

Ahh, common ground at last.
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by CaptnJack » Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:43 am

H20doctor wrote:id still dive with them... just because it happened to someone, doesnt mean it thats way always... whats the point of this thread ? really ...?

You are gonna die
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by Tom Nic » Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:30 am

H20doctor wrote:id still dive with them... just because it happened to someone, doesnt mean it thats way always... whats the point of this thread ? really ...?


Really? You don't see the point? Come on Chris, no one is saying never dive with sea lions as a hard and fast rule, just a heads up that they aren't always 'cute' and benign, and to just be aware and make your choices accordingly. I think you were joking, like the others posting here, but this thread doesn't need to degenerate into a fight over diving choices.

The information about mating seasons was new for me, or at least I didn't remember it, so that was a plus for this thread.

And the point about carrying a back-up mask and knowing how to use it is very well made. This incident could have gone very badly... picture a panic attack and less than clear headed response and someone is in deep doo doo.

That's as good a reason as any for this thread.
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by Dusty2 » Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:13 am

Reason???? There has to be a reason??? When did they post that rule???

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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by CaptnJack » Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:23 am

Dusty2 wrote:Reason???? There has to be a reason??? When did they post that rule???


Its a new rule, #27 I think. Didn't you get the memo?
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by pensacoladiver » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:28 pm

H20doctor wrote:id still dive with them...


Me too. You just need to make sure you carry a .357 hollow point bang stick.
:stir:

That is a joke by the way... well kinda. I am all for the Sea Lions... but if one comes up and starts muching on my head, all bets are probably gonna be off.

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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by Fordman » Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:27 pm

I had the same type of "head in the mouth of a sea lion" encounter in October

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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by diverden » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:32 pm

He may have just wanted your knees out of the sand :neener:

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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by Norris » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:45 pm

Sea lion be frontin' on me I punch it straight in the grillz.
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by H20doctor » Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:02 pm

CaptnJack wrote:
H20doctor wrote:id still dive with them... just because it happened to someone, doesnt mean it thats way always... whats the point of this thread ? really ...?

You are gonna die

Id die happy, because id be diving ..
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by Tom Nic » Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:40 pm

Norris wrote:Sea lion be frontin' on me I punch it straight in the grillz.


You do that. :boxer:

Can I watch? :calvin:

pensacoladiver wrote:Me too. You just need to make sure you carry a .357 hollow point bang stick.


I'm thinking that would be a better idea. :gunslinger:
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by straitscuba » Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:51 pm

SEals nipping or biting your fins is a pretty common occurrence in Port Angeles harbor. I had a dive buddy that was actually attacked and pretty well beat up by a harbor seal a few years back. We joked with him about it quite a lot afterward but it is a rather scary experience. Same type of thing, but it slapped him with it's tail across the face knocking his mask off and reg out then turned around and rammed him hard in the chest. That seemed to be more towards fall time, maybe October if I remember right.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that seals and sea lions will blow bubbles as a sign of dominance or aggression but can't remember where. Anyone else heard that?

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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by 60south » Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:38 pm

We're kinda lucky in the PNW. Sea Lions elsewhere in the world -- and I'm thinking of the Southern oceans -- can be really nasty. Like actual lions. Huge beasts, fangs and growl to match.

So there I was... In the Falkland Islands. Sea Lion Island, to be exact.

The lodge owner dropped me off in a Land Rover at one end of the island. I said I'd walk back.

"Aye. Be careful about t' sea lions. They hide in the tussock grass," he says is Falkland brogue.

"No worries, I'll be careful."

"OCH! You'll be DEAD!"

A kilometer later this MONSTER comes charging out of the tussocks, roaring. Had I not run like hell it would have squashed me flat and chewed up anything left. Och!

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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by Fordman » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:54 am

speaking of biting fins.....

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renoun
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Re: Think Sea Lions are cuddly critters? Think again.

Post by renoun » Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:46 pm

I've been known to bite other diver's fins too. Ask KTB or Edge.
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