A Canadian couple’s recent fishing outing was almost cut short by a chunky sea lion that launched itself onto their small boat in an attempt to escape a pod of orcas on the hunt.

The incident was filmed by a tourist on a nearby whale-watching boat. Ernest and Viesia Godek were enjoying a day out on the water just off the coast of Vancouver Island when they spotted a small pod of killer whales. Abiding by the rules when it comes to sharing the water with wildlife, they switched off the engine of their jon boat, allowing the orcas some space.

The Godeks’ peaceful wildlife encounter quickly took a turn, however, when a visibly distressed California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) shot out of the water and landed its hefty body on the side of their boat. The weight of the animal very nearly tipped them over, leaving the couple clutching the sides of the boat to stay on board. The four metre (14ft) vessel wasn’t designed to hold a 300-odd kilogram (660 pounds) flipper-footed giant and the animal quickly slid off the side and back into the ocean, leaving the couple drenched and the boat filled with water. Ernest told CBC Radio that the sea lion was close enough to smell, “I was wet, soaking wet up to my waist, and I could smell that smell for the rest of the day. It just didn't leave me.”

All aboard! Image © Brendon Bissonnette/Prince of Whales

Blubbery pinnipeds hitching rides isn’t a common occurrence but it's not completely unheard of either. A similar incident took place off the coast of British Colombia where a sea lion boarded a boat to avoid the jaws of hunting orcas. In a separate event, a baby sea lion was filmed hanging out on a boat in California while excited tourists admired it from a safe distance.

Whether the Godeks’ sea lion survived the orca onslaught remains a mystery, but the drenched couple were unharmed and made it safely back to land without further incident.

Header image: Tewy