An empty stretch of sand on a popular beach is a rare thing to find, especially during the summer, but a couple of sea lions from California’s La Jolla Cove just proved it could be possible to achieve.
In a video that went viral on TikTok over the weekend, two enormous sea lions temporarily freed up some shoreline at the cliff-framed beach when they suddenly decided to chase dozens of human beachgoers away.
Charlianne Yeyna filmed the chaotic scene as it unfolded Friday.
“I started recording because it was really funny to watch for me ... to see all these tourists getting blown away by these giant sea lions,” she told San Diego's NBC 7.
But as amusing as it may be to see sunbathers scramble away before the sea mammals hit the water in the 20-second clip, the video also raises concerns about what happens when people come to close to wildlife, which seems to have happened in this case.
“The sea lions were sleeping and were just massive on the beach, and I was just watching them and this woman got really close to them, like 4 feet away," Yeyna explained.
The woman allegedly cozied up to one of the creatures to take a photo.
"It just woke up and started chasing everybody,” Yeyna said.
And make no mistake, those beachgoers had good reason to run.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while California sea lions are intelligent and playful animals, they’re also powerful, with adults ranging in size from 240 pounds (females) to 700 pounds (males).
And with it being breeding season — which lasts from late June until early August, according to NOAA — males are known to "aggressively defend their territories" while females "fight other females to protect their pups."
Yeyna told San Diego’s NBC 7 that she was "glad that it went viral to raise awareness of how dangerous" sea lions can be if they are disturbed.
"They are still wild animals and you need to give them their space. They’re also protected. So I think that this shows that they are not to be messed with," Yeyna said.