International Travel

Panicked sea lions almost sink fishing boat

Panicked sea lions almost sink fishing boat

A fishing crew in southern Chile had a surprising catch, after dozens of sea lions tried to board their boat en masse to escape a pack of hunting killer whales.

Fisherman Antonio Zapata said he had never experienced anything like it in his four decades at sea, despite the fact that encountering hunting orcas was a relatively common experience.

Though the crew were sympathetic to the plight of the sea lions, they feared the boat would be damaged or sink even lower into the water under the combined weight of the animals and a full haul of sardines.

“They were trying to climb on board and we had to spread ourselves around the vessel to try to get them off with sticks because the ones that were getting on were making us sink,” he said.

“It was a dangerous situation because we couldn’t get the sea lions to go away or make the killer whales leave either.”

Footage captured on a mobile phone showed the water around the boat filled with thrashing sea lions.

Though the 10-man crew could be heard joking in the video, Mr Zapata said they were also genuinely worried they could end up in the water too.

“There were so many sea lions around the hull that we couldn’t move much - every time we did they got caught up in the propellers and I was worried they could break them altogether,” he said.

The crew attempted to approach a nearby island so the sea lions could take refuge there instead, but the whales blocked them from nearing the shore.

Once the whales finally drifted away, the sea lions were able to swim for cover as the boat neared the Talcahuano port.

“Some of the sea lions came with us into port. We couldn’t get rid of them,” Mr Zapata said.

Image: ABC news

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