SAN FRANCISCO -- ABC7 News spoke with the swimmer who was bitten by a sea lion in San Francisco Bay after he was reported in good condition following the attack. He had a good sense of humor about the dangerous situation.
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The victim of Thursday's rare sea lion attack spoke from his hospital room while waiting for surgery at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Christian Einfeldt says he's in almost no pain and the injury could have been much worse.
He believes the male sea lion trailed him as he swam from the beach to the mouth of Aquatic Park. When he turned around to head back, the sea lion was right there.
"I did feel threatened. I did have warning. But I was a quarter mile from shore. There was nothing I could do," Einfeldt said.
The sea lion bit him on the upper right arm. The wound started bleeding steadily and Einfeldt knew he couldn't swim back.
"I was relatively calm because I wasn't dead," he said.
Fortunately, a sailboat then came into view.
"The boat saved his life. If the boat hadn't been there, who knows what would have happened," Officer Matthew Reiter said.
The boat's captain picked up the injured swimmer, radioed for help and made a beeline for shore. Reiter applied a tourniquet and put pressure on the bite on Einfeldt's upper right arm.
He was taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where he is listed in good condition.
Dr. Claire Simeone is the Conservation Medicine Veterinarian for the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. She conducted a study on seal and sea lion attacks that was published in 2015. Simeone said because the attacks are so rare, it's hard to pinpoint the aggression.
"Sometimes animals can be sick or injured, they may be showing a behavior or protecting an area, and sometimes the behavior seems more random," Simeone said.
Dave Maloney, a swimmer, thought he saw the aggressive sea lion Thursday evening. But he and other dedicated swimmers were not deterred by the attack.
"I don't know. You get a sixth sense. I've been doing it for 30 years," Maloney said.
Einfeldt said he doesn't blame the sea lion and he's eager to get back in the water. But he does plan to make one change to his swimming routine.
"I'm now going to be swimming in waist-deep water," he said. "This is their kingdom. I don't want to roll the dice a second time."
Man bitten by sea lion describes attack: 'I was relatively calm because I wasn't dead'