Beach goers are being warned to avoid going near sea lions because they could be infected with deadly toxins.
Officials in Southern California have revealed that more than 100 sea lions have been poisoned over the last month because of a algal bloom on the coast line.
The poison from the bloom changers the behaviour of the normally docile animals, and can see them become hyper-aggressive beasts.
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There are now reports of people not even going near them being attacked, like that of competitive swimmer Angela Lee.
She took to Instagram to warn of the dangers posed, after being bitten by one during a five kilometre swimming challenge.
She wrote: “I’m okay but there’s a big problem right now.
“The algae bloom north of us is making fish toxic and causing neurological issues (and death) to dolphins and sea lions who eat them.
“The sea lion swam up under me a couple times and I was trying to remain calm then it head butt me in the side.
“I panicked and that’s when it latched onto my arm and twisted – I kicked it and it let go.”
The swimming fanatic didn't realise that she had been bitten badly at first, but suddenly saw blood gushing from her arm.
And it's possible that this caused the sea-lion to follow her to shore, and later harassed more swimmers and surfers.
She added: “Four of us swam to shore in a tight pack but it definitely followed us.
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“As I warmed up it started bleeding more, but the lifeguard patched me up and told me to go get it looked at.
“It had been harassing Christine but she was able to stay calm . . . apparently it went on to harass other swimmers and chased a surfer out of the water.”
Department of Beaches and Harbors director Gary Jones warned of the dangers, especially as locals will flock to beaches for today's July 4 celebrations.
He said: “We are working closely with the Marine Mammal Care Centre to ensure they have the necessary resources at their short-term beach care centre.
“We hope that beachgoers will give the rescuers and their patients plenty of room, even when the beach is crowded.”
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