A sea lion near the Balboa Pavilion bit and hurt a 9-year-old girl who, apparently unaware of the risk, tried to feed it a sardine, police said.
The Irvine girl suffered injuries to her hand and thumb at 1:30 p.m. Sunday when she tried to feed the 60-pound marine mammal.
Paramedics treated the girl at the scene; her mother later took her to a medical clinic in Irvine, Newport Beach Police Sgt. Mike McDermott said. The girl needed several stitches.
Animal control officers examined the sea lion and said the animal appeared healthy.
Animal control officers said the girl and her mother were standing near a warning sign that reads, "Do Not Feed the Sea Lions."
The mammals congregate near the pier, and fishermen often toss them bait, McDermott said. "They're just kind of waiting around for a free meal."
The incident prompted officials to remind beachgoers that they should never feed the sea lions, no matter how docile they may seem.