Baby Sea Lion Crashes Day at Sea

When J.R. Gilkinson counted the number of passengers aboard his boat for an afternoon sail off the waters of Newport Beach, Calif., he did not count a baby sea lion among them.

A baby sea lion, however, was exactly who spent the better part of an hour on board Gilkinson's boat May 18 after making his way up the boat's back deck.

"A whole bunch of dolphins were feeding around us so we hung out there for a while," Gilkinson of Orange, Calif., told today. "Once they all disappeared, this baby sea lion pup appeared from nowhere and circled the boat."

Gilkinson, along with his wife, niece and friends aboard their rented 33-foot sailboat, watched as the pup climbed aboard the sailboat's back deck. What the sea lion did next amazed them.

"He came over towards me," Gilkinson said. "He started sniffing my leg and just lays up against me, puts his head back a few times and yawns, laying between my leg and the boat ledge."

"He spent over an hour like that," he said. "It was amazing."

Gilkinson and the other humans on board let the sea lion pup be, just watching as he looked down into the waters he normally calls home and enjoying his time on dry land.

"We didn't feed him at all. We didn't beckon him to come on the boat," Gilkinson said. "Everything was completely on his terms. He was in perfect shape."

The only problem with the seal's mini-vacation came when Gilkinson had to get his rented boat back to the marina. The group pulled up the boat's anchor, thinking that would get the sea lion moving, but the pup stayed put.

They then drove the boat a few miles into Newport Harbor and it was only when Gilkinson stood up that the pup realized it was time to go.

"He looked up and saw me and he walked away to the ledge and belly flopped off the boat and was gone," Gilkinson said. "It was like he kind of realized this must be it."

"He probably would have stayed on there longer."

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