Sea Lion Nibbles On Swimmer’s Knee in Latest Attack

It's unlikely that the three attacks come from one rogue sea lion — it could be any of them.

For the third time in a month, a sea lion bit a swimmer in Aquatic Park, fire officials say Thursday.

The swimmer, described as an adult female, says she was bitten on the knee while swimming around 7 a.m. Thursday. Though the bite wasn’t serious, a retired paramedic who was also swimming in Aquatic Park Cove — near Ghiradelli Square — provided the care she could until the San Francisco Fire Department arrived.

Officials sent the victim to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital for evaluation.

The string of bites began on Dec. 14, which led officials to use a tourniquet on the adult victim. A second one hit the next day, prompting a closure of Aquatic Park for the weekend.

But swimmers can rest easy knowing that it’s not just one rogue sea lion or seal, says National Parks Service spokesperson Morgan Smith. It could be any of them.

Sea lion or seal attacks do happen from time to time but not with this frequency, Smith says. They have noticed more seabirds at the entrance to the cove, bolstering the theory that there’s more fish for animals to feed on in the area where the attacks have occurred.

“This is basically a sea lion habitat,” Smith says of the cove entrance where the attacks. “People get in the way.”

The park’s normal swim lanes don’t encounter the same problems, so Smith says the San Francisco Maritime Historical Park will not be closing it down. They will, however, update signs to warn swimmers and hope they stay at least 50 feet away from the wildlife, especially as they feed.

“People do choose to swim,” Smith says. “We just hope that people take the necessary precautions.”


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