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A woman posted a video with the caption “That time when I seriously thought that petting a sleeping sea lion was a brilliant idea” is now being reviewed by law enforcement and could face up to $11,000 in fines.
La Jolla is a favorite spot for some to take pictures of sea lions but there are signs posted stating that people should not touch the animals.
Lifeguards, city park rangers, and federal law enforcement are to monitor for people getting too close as they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggest for people to say 50 yards away from sea lions and seals.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act was put in place in the 70s to guard endangered species from harm. This allowed for sea lions to not be endangered today.
In regards to the incident the City of San Diego released this statement:
“The City of San Diego recommends the public keep a safe distance from sea lions hauled out in La Jolla Cove for their own safety and the safety of the animals. While they may look friendly and docile, sea lions are wild animals and have been known to bite, snap or chase people if they feel afraid or threatened which can result in serious injury. Additionally, while there is an effort to educate the public about the potential dangers of encroaching on marine life, a person can be cited per the City municipal code depending on the severity of the harassment.
A person can also be cited by NOAA in violation of federal law per the Marine Mammal Protection Act which can be punishable by criminal penalties up to $100,000 and one-year incarceration. Civil penalties up to $11,000 per count may also be assessed.”
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