In a video making the rounds on the Internet this week, a fisherman in San Diego is seen cuddling up to a sea lion. Sure, it’s a cute scene that caught the attention of America’s Funniest Home Videos, but it’s technically illegal and could have put both the sea lion and the man in danger.
Sea lions carry possibly harmful bacteria on their skin, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. They also smell absolutely awful as you might imagine an animal that eats nothing but fish would smell. It’s also possible that people might pass diseases onto them. And while the sea lion appears docile in the video, you never know when their temperament might change. Seals and sea lions have a bite 10 times stronger than a pit bull.
Because of these reasons, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 requires that people stay at least 150 feet away from marine mammals unless you are trained and certified by the US Coast Guard.