SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – One of the swimmers attacked by a sea lion in San Francisco’s Aquatic Park last week talked to KPIX 5 Tuesday about his harrowing ordeal.
The area reopened for swimmers on Wednesday after being closed since Friday when a second swimmer was attacked by a sea lion in the space of just two days.
Last Thursday, warnings had already been posted at Aquatic Park after a swimmer was bitten by a sea lion just outside the cove.
On Friday, Rick Mulvihill decided to be safe and restrict his daily swim to inside the break wall.
“I was just swimming along and whatever it was — everybody’s thinking it’s a sea lion now; I never saw him — came up from underneath me and hit me. It’s like being in a car accident,” said Mulvihill.
The large sea mammal clamped its teeth down onto Rick’s groin area. When it finally let go, he had to hold pressure on the wound as he backstroked with one arm the 1,000 yards back to his swim club.
His friend and fellow swimmer Joe Boone helped him onto the beach.
“So I looked and I said, We’re gonna call 911. Because I could see…there was no blood whatsoever, but I could just see there were deep wounds there,” remembered Boone.
Mulvihill was rushed to the hospital to have his wounds checked was even given treatment to prevent rabies. He believes the cold water saved him from massive blood loss.
He’s shaken, knowing that if the bite had hit his femoral artery, it could have killed him. And while sea lions are occasionally seen in Aquatic Park, swimmers here are alarmed by this aggressive behavior of the animals that live nearby.
“We’ve seen sea lions come through Aquatic Park. We’ve never seen them consistently swimming around, said Boone. “So that’s a new thing, and that’s an issue. And I think sea lions at Pier 39 are a problem.”
Just Wednesday, a sea lion was seen hanging out near a boat at Aquatic Park. Club members who normally swim alone are now grouping up into “pods” for protection.
Mulvihill said he will return to the cove, but he will take precautions in the future.
“Next time I go in the water, I’ll go in a pod that surrounds me and I’ll swim in the middle. Right in the middle!” said Mulvihill.