J.R. Gilkinson had never seen anything like it. The California man was
sailing off Newport Beach with his niece and some friends when a
sea lion pup hopped aboard the back deck of the boat and slowly edged closer
Thinking quickly, Gilkinson captured the extraordinary moment on film. In the
video, filmed on May 18 the
baby sea lion snuggles with the sailor and lays in Gilkinson's lap as it
appears to rest its eyes. He didn't budge for an hour.
"It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had," Gilkinson told The
Huffington Post. "I appreciated every second because I didn't know how long it
was going to last."
"He wanted to come rest on me," he said. "So we let him."
When it was time to return to harbor, Gilkinson actually had to stand up and
tell the sea lion it was time to go. After some gentle nudges, the pup walked to
the end of the boat and jumped back into the water.
Gilkinson spoke with other sailors in the area and confirmed what he initially
thought: This type of thing "just doesn't happen."
However, if recent baby sea lion sightings in Southern California are any
indication, it seems the pups are becoming more and more undaunted by
interactions with humans.
Increased incidents of sea lions making contact with humans may have something
to do with the sheer number of pups that are leaving the ocean for California
shores. Marine centers and rescue organizations have witnessed a significant
increase in the number of
sea lion pups that are washing ashore this year. According to Sarah Wilkin,
the stranding coordinator for the state's National Marine Fisheries Service, the
problem may be related to
lack of prey available.