Read mistake. According to sea lion expert Eric Otjen of SeaWorld San Diegothe behavior of the animals was more than natural and even predictable: it is at this time of year, when the species’ reproduction period begins, that males are fighting for territory and, of course, females.
Speaking to APNews, Otjen said the male who was “running” around people was running away from the other male closer to the water’s edge who was chasing him because they were likely fighting over which females would get it. There was no lack of opportunities for animals to attack people if they so wished, but this does not happen.
“It’s about the right to mate,” Otjen said. “This behavior is not uncommon. The reason the video has reached 10 million views is because everyone is running around like Godzilla is chasing them,” he added.
Does this mean that beachgoers could have been calm enjoying the beach while the animal war was going on? Not really, ponders the expert. “You don’t want to get caught in the crossfire. Even if they don’t bite, it doesn’t feel good to have 200 to 300 pounds rolling over you,” he commented, referring to the animals’ weight.
Part of the misconception about the sea lions’ behavior may have come from the fact that a few minutes before the run, a woman would have been spotted approaching the animals to try to take a picture at an unsafe distance.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration guidelines recommend that people stay at least 15 meters away from sea lions, seals and other species protected under that country’s Marine Mammal Protection Act.