WATCH: Sea Lion Swims Up and ‘Hugs’ Stunned Diver

by Craig Garrett
Australian Sea Lion in the Morning Sun - stock photo

A wild sea lion’s extraordinary moment where it swam up to a teenager offshore from Mexico was captured on camera, bemusing viewers. In August, when 15-year-old Ethan Becker and his 47-year-old father Chuck were diving, they saw a sea lion swimming towards them. This might have looked like a scary situation, but the sea creature was just playing with Ethan – something his dad caught on camera.

The short video posted online captures a delightful moment between people and animals. In it, a large sea lion approaches a teenager cautiously. The boy seems just as cautious at first but quickly begins to enjoy patting the soft head of the big friendly creature.

The animal not only becomes more comfortable around Ethan but also starts playing with him and appears to enjoy his company. At one point, the animal even gives him a hug. The seal then curiously swims up to Chuck, who is still filming, and briefly checks out his flippers before swimming away. Of course, footage of the encounter was shared on Twitter.

Teen describes sea lion encounter as ‘ euphoric’

Ethan’s underwater encounter was shocking, although it only lasted a few moments. “It felt so euphoric at that moment that I almost forgot to put the snorkel in my mouth so I could breathe!” he told The Daily Mail. He noted that he would love to go diving there again soon to hopefully see his new best friend.

The teenager is still at a loss for words concerning his sea lion encounter. ‘I don’t really know how to describe it as I was just totally taken back,” he said. ‘Looking back, I probably should have been more scared of being bit. But if I was ever given the chance I’d definitely dive there again.’

Sea lions are creatures that have external ear flaps. They have long front flippers to walk on all fours, with short and thick hair. They make up the family Otariidae with six species in five genera. Their range extends to the subarctic and tropical waters of both hemispheres except for the northern Atlantic Ocean.

The average lifespan of a California sea lion is 20-30 years. A male sea lion typically weighs 660 pounds and is 8 feet long. Meanwhile, females weigh an average of 220 pounds and are 6 feet in length. The largest recorded Steller’s sea lions can reach 2,200 pounds. However, they only grow to be 10 feet in length, on average.

Sea lions are known to eat 15-35 lb (or 5-8% of their body weight) at a time. They can consume large quantities of food in a single sitting. They’re relatively speedy, too. In water, they can travel up to 18 mph, but their fastest speed is about 35 mph. Out of the three sea lion species – Australian, Galapagos, and New Zealand – only the latter two are endangered according to recent reports.