11/08/2014 12:46 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sea Lion Attacks Diver Off Santa Barbara Coast (VIDEO)

Sea lions may be adorable -- they surf, they snuggle, they even boogie -- but they can also be terrifying.

One freediver had a close call with an aggressive sea lion while spearfishing off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Chris Okamoto was using his GoPro to film the open ocean when a colony of sea lions swam around him, according to the Daily Mail.

"At first, it looked like they were just curious," Okamoto told the Daily Mail. He said he had been in similar situations before, "but this one came much closer and as soon as it rushed toward me, I swung the butt of my gun up and it stopped short."

While rare, sea lion attacks on humans do occur. California sea lions can be aggressive and territorial, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advises the public to stay at least 50 yards away from them while they are swimming.

Sea lions can also swim at speeds up to 30 mph and possess sharp canine teeth for grabbing fish. In other words, Okamoto is lucky he reacted so quickly.




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