Swimmer bitten by sea lion

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Posted by on November 14, 2006 at 22:32:34:

SAN FRANCISCO -- A woman was bitten by a sea lion while swimming in the bay this week, marine officials said.

The incident occurred at Aquatic Park around 4 p.m. on Monday, said Lynn Cullivan, a spokesman for the Maritime National Historic Park, the federal agency that oversees the area.

The woman is a member of the Dolphin Club, whose patrons swim year-round in the icy bay waters.

Cullivan said his agency initially received a report that the swimmer had been bitten by a harbor seal.

However, Jim Oswald, communications manager with the Marine Mammal Center, said the attacker most likely was a sea lion, because they are more aggressive than seals.

The center received a call about the bite, he said, and advised the woman to go to the hospital to have the wound cleaned.

"I don't know about common, but in any area where there are wild animals and humans, there is bound to be some type interaction," he said. "We always tell the public that no matter what you are doing, try to stay away from the animals. ... If you are swimming and see a sea lion, try to swim away."

Cullivan had no further details about the incident, and no one answered the phone at the Dolphin Club this afternoon.

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