SEA LION PULLS FISHERMAN OFF BOAT IN KING COVE

SEA LION PULLS FISHERMAN OFF BOAT IN KING COVE

Palmer, Les

In early March, 19-year-old Ray Dushkin Jr. was working on his grandfather’s fishing boat in King Cove when a sea lion leaped from the water and grabbed the seat of the young man’s coveralls in its teeth. In a flash, he was pulled overboard and under water.

Ray Dushkin Sr., who was working nearby, told the Anchorage Daily News he was horrified.

“The only thing I was thinking is, that sea lion was taking off with my boy, and I’ll never see him again,” he said.

Ray Sr. estimated that the sea lion weighed about 10 times as much as his son. The average male Steller sea lion weighs more than 1,200 pounds and is more than 10 feet long.

The younger Dushkin was under water for only a few moments. When he popped to the surface, his father and a crewmember helped him climb aboard the boat. He was unscathed except for a tear in his Carhartts and a 1 ½-inch scrape on one buttock.

“Pretty much everybody’s kind of laughing,” he said. “It was kind of scary.”

It wasn’t the first time a sea lion has attacked a human. A similar attack occurred in 1998, in Unalaska, except the victim wasn’t pulled overboard. In 1987, a sea lion in Kodiak harbor pulled a man off a boat. In that case, the victim had been feeding fish to sea lions just before the attack.

Feeding sea lions is illegal under federal law. Officials say it’s likely the main reason that sea lions jump onto boats and docks and lunge at people. The western stock of Steller sea lions is listed as endangered.

Copyright Morris Communications Jul 2004

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