Dolphins are meant to stay in the ocean, but this California dolphin apparently didn't get the memo. Last week, a family enjoying a quiet Father's Day on the water off the coast of Los Angeles was interrupted when a six-foot-long, 350-pound dolphin decided to leap out of the ocean and crash land onto their boat, knocking a woman and her daughter over in the process.

The dolphin eventually came to a stop on top of Chrissie Frickman's legs. Amid the chaos, her husband Dirk managed to pull her out from under the cetacean, before steering the boat back towards the harbour and alerting the harbour patrol that they'd need assistance.

"It’s kickin’ and bangin’ and smackin’ and once it did, it cut up its nose and got a few cuts on its tail, and as it shimmied its way around the boat, you know, the blood just started spattering everywhere," Dirk told KNX 1070, a local news radio station.

The dolphin appears to be doing fine: the Frickmans kept the animal wet until they got to shore, and once there, they got a helping hand lowering it back into the water, where it swam away. Chrissie, on the other hand, will take a bit longer to heal. As the OC Register reports, she's being treated for two broken ankles.

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Image: OC Sheriff Dept, CA/Twitter

"It’s one of those things where it’s all so beautiful, but you have to remember it’s still kind of wild," Dirk told the OC Register.

As the US heads into Discovery Channel's Shark Week, it's worth noting that if this had been a shark instead of a dolphin, the media would likely be trumpeting the horror of a shark attack off the coast of California. Instead, what we get is a series of snarky articles about an extremely odd dolphin encounter. The truth is that wild predators can be unpredictable and can do quite a bit of unintentional damage. And that's true whether they're mammals or fish, whether they're generally feared or generally revered, and whether they're the inspiration for a horror film starring Roy Scheider or a heart-warming tale of interspecies friendship starring Morgan Freeman.

Top header image: Leo Reynolds/Flickr