Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sea Lion Takes Fireboat for a Ride

Sea Lion Takes Fireboat for a Ride

NEWPORT HARBOR -- A sea lion became a unexpected sea captain when the curious creature took the helm of an Orange County Sheriff's Harbor Patrol fireboat, officials say.

Last week, Harbor Patrol deputies responded to a report of an aggressive sea lion who had reportedly latched onto a child's pant leg, according to Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Jim Slikker.

The deputies were able to get the the juvenile sea lion back into the water, but only a few minutes later, it jumped back on the dock. Concerned for public safety, the deputies decided they would take the animal to a local sea lion hangout, Slikker says.

They were able to get the sea lion onto the fireboat using a makeshift leash. During the trip, the sea lion snuck into the V-berth and then jumped into the driver's seat, according to the deputies. They say he used his flippers to experiment with the many buttons and controls that were laid out before him.

The marine mammal made his way to the lower steering station and accidentally started shifting the course of the boat. Deputies attempted to persuade the sea lion to leave the throttles -- which, at the time, were switched to reverse. Deputy Slikker says they eventually got him to move off the controls and regained control of the boat.

The mischievous sea lion and the boat were brought to the Harbor Patrol docks to wait for an animal control officer. Back at the docks, the animal was gently coxed from the boat with a garden hose, deputies say. After a few squirts of water, he jumped onto the dock, where he waited around for an hour and a half before heading back into the bay.

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