SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — A woman is being criticized after posting a video on social media of her petting a sea lion in La Jolla.
The video making the rounds on Instagram appears to show the woman attempting to pet the sea lion and it reacts violently.
It's against federal law to harass them by either injuring them or disturbing where they live in the wild.
The video was posted in January, but it's not known when it was taken.
The woman in the video was a visitor from Kansas and captioned it with "That time when I seriously thought that petting a sleeping sea lion was a brilliant idea."
She later responded to a comment saying, "like a fool I didn't think he would wake."
After News 8 reached out to her, the woman set her profile to private.
The Instagram video is under review by law enforcement.
Sea lions and seals are not endangered but are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
It was passed in the '70s when their populations were dwindling.
Experts say the act has been successful in helping to bring them from the brink.
La Jolla is a popular spot to take pictures of sea lions, but signs are posted at most entrances to the cove warning against touching animals.
Lifeguards, city park rangers and federal law enforcement all monitor for people getting too close.
The fine for violating the act is up to $11,000.
NOAA recommends people stay 50 yards away from sea lions and seals.
To learn about how to safely - and legally - view marine wildlife, click here.
The City of San Diego released the following statement regarding the incident:
The City of San Diego recommends the public keep a safe distance from sea lions hauled out in La Jolla Cove for their own safety and the safety of the animals. While they may look friendly and docile, sea lions are wild animals and have been known to bite, snap or chase people if they feel afraid or threatened which can result in serious injury. Additionally, while there is an effort to educate the public about the potential dangers of encroaching on marine life, a person can be cited per the City municipal code depending on the severity of the harassment.
A person can also be cited by NOAA in violation of federal law per the Marine Mammal Protection Act which can be punishable by criminal penalties up to $100,000 and one-year incarceration. Civil penalties up to $11,000 per count may also be assessed.
Thieves broke into a Mountain View family’s home and took their car, Christmas presents, family documents and money – all while the father fights stage four testicular cancer and his wife is eight months pregnant.
As the nation marked the sixth anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, San Diego clergy and community members on Friday came together to remember more than half-a-million Americans killed or injured by guns since the deadly shooting.
There is new information in one of the most notorious, unsolved murders in San Diego county. A new book written by the victim’s first cousin details the 1985 murder of Donna Gentile.
High clouds hovered over the county on Friday as subtropical moisture moved in ahead of a weak trough of low pressure. The return of high pressure over Southern California will bring a sunnier setup by the weekend.
California's lawsuit against a Trump administration plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census moved closer to trial after a U.S. judge refused to throw out the challenge Friday.
San Diego Border Patrol on Friday announced agents arrested a group of undocumented immigrants after they jumped over a section of temporary barrier as photographers and media outlets filmed.
How many times a day do you pass a co-worker, say ‘hello,’ but not take the time to ask how they are feeling?
The "Top Nine" pictures you are seeing on Instagram is done through a website that scans your posts and profiles, but is this fun flashback safe? Eric Alvarez verifies where your information is going and why you might to think twice!
The city of San Diego will close Children's Pool beach Saturday in preparation of harbor seal pupping season, city officials announced Friday.
Your home's garage is probably filled with all types of things, but did you know some of the most common items found in garages should not be in there?