According to an MSN news article entitled, Golden Gate Bridge jumper says sea lion saved him, “A man who jumped off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to try to take his own life and was kept afloat by a sea lion said Wednesday suicide prevention was now his life’s work.”
Witnesses who saw the incident said a sea lion kept him afloat until the Coast Guard sent a rescue boat. Kevin Hines told MSN news, “I really thought it was a shark and I thought it was going to take off a leg and I was panicking. And then it just didn’t, it just kept circling beneath me. I remember floating atop the water and this thing just bumping me, bumping me up.”
One of the witnesses told Hines, “I was less than two feet away from you when you jumped. It haunted me until this day; it was no shark, it was a sea lion and people above looking down believed it to be keeping you afloat until the Coast Guard brought a ride behind you.”
Hines stated, “[Witnesses] saw me laying atop the water and being bumped.” He added, “This thing beneath me didn’t stop or didn’t go away until I heard the boat behind me.”
After all our species has done and continues to do to sea lions—hunted them by the thousands for their fur and oil while feeding their flesh to dogs or captive minks; vilifying and putting a bounty on their heads for competing with commercial fishermen; and forcing them to perform as trained “seals” in the circus, etc.—it’s incredible that one of these “lesser” mammals would go out of his or her way to save a human.
If not for the sea lion keeping him afloat, Hines would very likely have gone under and drowned before the rescue boat arrived. While it’s noble that he is now devoting his life to suicide prevention, if he really wants to be altruistic, why not advocate for the one who went out of their way to prevent his suicide. It seems to me that if anyone has a good reason to become a marine mammal advocate, he does—he owes them his life.
While the human population grows by 350,000 per day, Steller sea lions, whose total pre-persecution numbers were never more than 300,000, have been driven below 100,000 and are still in decline. In Alaska, the Western segment of Stellars is down to a mere 18% of their historic numbers. Meanwhile, starved California sea lion pups are washing up dead on the beaches.
Sea lions are still being scapegoated, branded and shot, all for eating fish—the only food they have.