Sea lion grabs Alaska fisherman off boat in King Cove

Posted: Friday, March 12, 2004

ANCHORAGE - A 19-year-old fisherman is recovering from an encounter with a sea lion that leaped out of the water, grabbed him as he worked on his grandfather's docked boat and pulled him into the harbor at King Cove.

"It happened so fast, I forgot what I was doing," said Ray Dushkin Jr., who was not seriously injured in the abduction Tuesday.

Dushkin spent a few moments beneath the water's surface before the hefty animal let go. Dushkin's left buttock sports an inch-and-a-half scrape, but no bite mark, he said. His coveralls were torn through, as were the pants worn beneath them.

Dushkin, his father, Ray Dushkin Sr., and crew members Charles Mack and Henry Roehl had returned to King Cove on Monday from cod fishing. On Tuesday they motored the 53-foot Desirae Dawn up to the dock at Peter Pan Seafoods to unload.

About 4:30 p.m., Ray Sr. was standing on the top of the bridge and asked his son to hand him up the hatch so he could examine it.

Young Dushkin was standing next to the fish hold and just inside the railing, two feet from the edge of the boat, he said.

Several sea lions, part of a small pod that hangs out in the harbor, were in the area.

"The sea lion was just swimming around the boat like they do always when the boats are delivering fish," Ray Sr. said. And just like that, the creature - estimated about 12 feet long and between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds - leaped a half dozen or more feet out of the water and grabbed his son.

"He went over like a rag doll," the father told the Anchorage Daily News. "The only thing I was thinking is, that sea lion was taking off with my boy, and I'll never see him again."

Then the sea lion let the young man go.

Ray Sr. and Mack were at the railing to help Ray Jr. climb aboard.

The younger Dushkin was examined at the local clinic and given antibiotics.

Sea lions have been known to jump up on boats and docks but generally not to attack people. An incident like Tuesday's happened in April 1987 in Kodiak harbor when a fisherman was seized by a sea lion and pulled under for a short while.

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