Viral video shows sea lions chasing beachgoers at La Jolla Cove

Sightseers at La Jolla Cove in February near sea lions in the water.
Sightseers at La Jolla Cove in February.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Sea lions: 1. Beachgoers: 0.

In a video that’s gained nearly 9 million views on TikTok, dozens of beachgoers at La Jolla Cove in San Diego could be seen scrambling from a pair of sea lions last week.

Charlianne Yeyna, the witness who recorded the video and posted it on social media, told NBC San Diego that she started filming Friday when she observed a woman on the beach attempting to snap a photo of a snoozing sea lion.

The woman got about 4 feet too close to the sea lion, Yeyna said, and the sea lion didn’t seem to take too kindly to being awakened from its slumber, chasing her through the crowd of beachgoers. A second sea lion then joined in on the exodus, galumphing toward swimmers who went into the water.


“I started recording because it was really funny to watch for me because to see all these tourists getting blown away by these giant sea lions,” Yeyna told NBC.

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While the video has drawn laughs and comments from the internet, wildlife experts warn of the dangers of getting too close to wildlife — no matter how cute they may seem.

Sea lions aren’t an uncommon sight at La Jolla Cove, which is part of the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve. Signs posted around the beach warn beachgoers of sea lions’ aggressive nature, with a reminder that harassing the blubbery pinnipeds is against federal law.

In May, the San Diego City Council approved an ordinance for a seasonal closure of Point La Jolla and Boomer Beach during sea lion mating season, which runs from May 1 through Oct. 31, after the city reported an increase in reports of animals at the beach being harassed by visitors.

“With the growing sea lion population, Point La Jolla has become a popular tourist destination for the public to view these wild animals at close range. ... Members of the public have been observed trying to touch, take ‘selfies,’ and get as close to sea lions as possible which is potentially dangerous for not only the animals, but also the public as well,” reads a city staff report from the March proposal.

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Yeyna said she was happy the video went viral to raise awareness of the dangers of attempting to interact with wildlife.


“Like, they are still wild animals, and you need to give them their space,” she said. “They’re also protected. So I think that this shows that they are not to be messed with.”