Sea lions are known for their cute and cuddly appearance and for being excellent entertainers thanks to their supreme intelligence.
They can be found in coastal waters all over the world feeding on a diet of fish, krill, squid, and just about anything they can get their teeth on.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the sea lion and answer a question many pinniped lovers are searching for. Are sea lions friendly?
The truth is, no, sea lions are not particularly friendly. They are wild animals that can be unpredictable at times. Although not particularly aggressive either, sea lions must be treated with respect as they are more than capable of attacking and seriously injuring a human.
Are Sea Lions Truly Friendly?
Sea lions are used all over the world for entertainment purposes and to put on a show. They are super intelligent animals that can learn amazing tricks and build long-lasting relationships with trainers.
This gives people the perception that these animals are friendly, and that they are not dangerous towards humans at all.
Whilst this is largely true, with sea lions attacks being incredibly rare. Sea lions are not friendly animals, they can become extremely aggressive when provoked, intimidated, or invaded upon.
Sea lions are territorial animals that will defend their space fearlessly, especially when in the breeding season.
Males are known to become much more aggressive during this period as their hormones are heightened ready to mate.
They are large, agile marine mammals that are equipped with sharp teeth that have been used to bite people in the past.
For this reason, it’s incredibly important to be wary around sea lions, whether that’s in captivity or in the wild as they are more than capable of causing serious harm to people.
Are Sea Lions Friendly With Humans?
Sea lions are capable of building long-lasting relationships with humans whilst in captivity and are used for educational and entertainment purposes because of this.
They are highly intelligent animals that are able to read human body language very well but are also trained using food and reward as a motivator.
However, wild sea lions that are encountered in the ocean or on the beach are not as friendly as those in captivity.
Some sea lions will even sneak up behind unsuspecting divers in the ocean and bark loudly right next to their ears. If the diver reacts, they can become more aggressive towards them, which is undoubtedly a terrifying experience.
With that said, most people should be fine when around sea lions in the wild or in captivity, providing they treat these animals with respect and space.
Do Sea Lions Attack Humans?
Attacks on humans from sea lions are incredibly rare, but when humans come too close and invade their personal space they certainly can happen.
They are territorial animals that if not used to humans may become defensive and can even sometimes attack, which can be a disaster for everyone involved.
Sea lions are large marine mammals that are equipped with a set of large, sharp teeth that are capable of inflicting a serious bite.
These animals can carry a range of harmful bacteria with them, which can be transferred through their bites which makes them even more dangerous.
They have even been known to break the surface of the water and drag people from land into water with them.
Check out this video of a young girl being pulled into the water by a sea lion:
In another sea lion attack, Elena Precillia, 25, was attacked off the coast of Australia whilst swimming with sea lions before she was bitten.
Left with a wound and a hefty medical bill, Elena needed a course of antibiotics to treat the infection and said she was panicking and struggling to breathe after she was bitten.
Can Sea Lions Be Aggressive?
Although sea lions have a cute and cuddly appearance, they can be very dangerous and aggressive when they feel threatened.
Much like how a dolphin has a constant smile because of its anatomy, the sea lion’s appearance can also be deceiving.
Sea lions are not usually aggressive animals if given space and respected, however, if you come too close then they may see this as intimidation and can quickly change into being a threat.
These animals are most aggressive when in the breeding season, especially males as their hormones are heightened.
They are also known to be more aggressive if they are sick, or wild and completely desensitized towards humans.
Naturally, those in captivity will be more tolerable of humans as they are around them every day, whereas wild sea lions may look at us as a threat, which is why it’s incredibly important to be cautious around these animals.
So, are sea lions friendly? Not particularly, but this largely depends if the animal is in captivity or in the wild.
As mentioned, those in captivity are around humans and their trainers every single day, so are capable of reading our body language very well and are much more tolerable towards us.
However, wild sea lions can be dangerous, they are known to intimidate divers by barking loudly in their ears and waiting for a reaction.
They are also known to bite divers that get too close, and given that they are curious animals they can often come into close proximity to humans whilst swimming, snorkeling or diving.
Hopefully, this post has been helpful and highlighted some of the potential dangers of being around sea lions.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you have enjoyed it, if you have then feel free to share it with others that may find it of value.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.