SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- A kayaking trip turned into a once-in-a-lifetime experience for one Orange County family.
Rodney Gist was paddling along with is 10-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son when they noticed a stowaway.
“I could feel something on the kayak. It kind of rocked a little, then I looked back and there was a little sea lion on there,” said Gist’s daughter, Leelee. “Maybe he was tired of swimming, maybe he wanted to interact with people, maybe he wanted to snuggle.”
“Next thing I know, he’s snuggling up next to me,” Rodney Gist said.
Meanwhile, his wife and 8-year-old daughter were stunned by the sight.
“My wife is somewhat freaking out,” Gist said, “Thinking about this experience, this wild animal on board with us.”
The sea lion stayed on the kayak for about an hour and even hitched a ride to shore.
The Santa Barbara area has been home to many sea lion sightings recently. Experts said changes in the food supply are causing problems and some pups are underweight. The sea lion in the Gist family’s encounter appeared to be healthy.