ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — A California family picked up an unexpected and unusual hitchhiker on a recent kayaking trip in Santa Barbara. Rodney Gist was kayaking with his 10-year-old daughter and five-year-old son when the kayak… started bobbing.
“At first, it felt like he was pushing the kayak. Next thing you know, I could tell he’d climbed aboard,” Rodney Gist said.
I looked back and there he was,” Rodney’s daughter, Leelee, said. A young sea lion was catching a ride on the back of the kayak.
“It’s a wild animal, so we’re a little bit interested to see how he’s going to behave, but he did really good,” Rodney said.
That’s probably not the first time that’s happened, right?
“He started nuzzling up to me, being really sweet,” Rodney told Steve Kuzj our sister station KTLA. “I could tell he was kind of playful, like a dog.”
Okay, that part’s new to us.
The Gist family said the sea lion stayed with them for more than an hour, earning his ride by smooching his new buddy’s neck as Rodney paddled the kayak. ‘Cecil,’ as they began calling him, was a big hit with others out on the water — people with identical kayaks, but sadly, no sea lions.
“Maybe he was just tired of swimming, maybe he just wanted to interact with people, maybe he just wanted to snuggle,” Leelee theorized.
Maybe all of those reasons?
And like the traditional pups we’re used to dealing with, guess what happened next?
“About five, ten minutes in, I was able to touch him and pet him and he was able to put his head up under my arm, trying to get in my lap,” Rodney said.
Definitely the dogs of the ocean.
The Gist family said after a while, Cecil got spooked by people gathering to see him and decided he’d go back to his sea lion family.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to forget that,” Leelee said.
We bet not!