Chaos at Beach Has 'Everybody Running Like Godzilla' Is Coming

But sea lions were likely engaging in normal breeding-season behavior, not chasing humans
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2022 10:40 AM CDT

A day at the beach in Southern California ended in chaos last week when two sea lions appeared to go on a rampage, spurring a viral video and reminders by local officials to leave wildlife alone. Per NBC News, the footage was shot by Charlianne Yeyna, who was visiting San Diego's La Jolla Cove on Friday when someone appeared to get too close to the resident sea lions, who were sunbathing on the rocks before suddenly jumping up and charging down the beach. Yeyna's clip, shared on TikTok and now picked up by multiple news organizations, shows people sprinting ahead of the animals and trying to get out of their way as they barrel toward the water, eventually heading into the surf.

"I started recording because it was really funny to watch, for me to see all these tourists getting blown away by these giant sea lions," Yeyna tells NBC San Diego, which notes that other nearby coastal areas have had to have seasonal shutdowns because people either don't know about or don't heed PSAs on giving sea lions their space, especially during pupping season. Yeyna adds that the sea lions' rest seemed to have been disturbed by a woman who inched up to take a picture. "This shows that they are not to be messed with," she tells NBC. But sea lion experts say despite the chaotic scene, the animals may not have been going after the beachgoers at all, but after each other, as it's mating season, when males tend to spar.

"This behavior is not uncommon at all," Eric Otjen of SeaWorld San Diego tells the AP. "The reason why the video has gotten like 10 millions views is because everybody is running like Godzilla is chasing them." Otjen adds that if you watch the video closely, the sea lions don't seem to have much interest in attacking the running humans, instead dashing right past them and into the water. Still, it's wise to keep one's distance, especially since males can grow to weigh more than a ton. "You don't want to be caught in the crossfire," Otjen says. “Even if they don't bite, it's not a great feeling to have 200 to 300 pounds roll over you." Per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, humans should steer clear of sea lions, seals, and other creatures covered under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, putting at least 50 feet of distance between themselves and the animals. (More sea lions stories.)

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