A California teen is recovering after she was attacked but her injuries weren’t caused by a shark — They were caused by a sea lion.
State officials say the unexpected assault is extremely rare.
It was a fun beach day with friends now turned into a painful memory.
“I was just kinda jumping around, dancing, just having fun. And they were taking funny pictures of me. And we were just all laughing. And then, yeah, the sea lion attacked me,” Megan Pagnini said.
13-year-old Megan Pagnini’s friend’s photo shows what happened next. In a slowed down iPhone live photo, you can see a sea lion charging at her in the water.
“I felt it on my leg and I looked down and freaked out. I didn’t know what it was. All I knew is something was attacking me,” Megan said.
People walking nearby quickly jumped in to help her, shocked that something like this could happen unprovoked.
“After her leg was wrapped up and everything, she turned looked at my husband and me and apologized to us, like she had ruined our weekend or something. And it really melted my heart that that little girl was worried about us in that moment,” Nicki Thessen, witness, said.
California Fish and Wildlife Patrol Captain Todd Tognazzini says attacks like these are extremely rare.
They’re now treating the sea lion for possible domoic acid poisoning, a toxin that impacts the brain because they say the sea lion’s erratic behavior didn’t stop there.
“We believe that was why the sea lion in this incident, not only bit the person but then came on land and bit metal lifeguard stand,” Tognazzini said.
The Pagnini family is now cautioning other families to be cautious at the beach this summer as Megan remains uncertain she’ll ever feel comfortable going back.
“I think I know if I ever do, I’ll be a lot more cautious about where I am and my surroundings,” Megan said.
Megan says she hopes to be recovered from her injury in time to play soccer in August.