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(SAN DIEGO) — One moment, Dan Carlin was posing with his latest catch. The next, the Carmel Valley, California, resident worried he was going to die after a sea lion attacked, pulling him overboard.

“[It] flipped my legs up into the water and I went straight down,” Carlin told ABC affiliate station KGTV in San Diego. “Just before I got to the surface I felt him biting my foot.” 

Carlin had been enjoying a day on the water with his wife, Trish, when the attack happened. He was smiling for the camera, holding a fish he caught, when the sea lion latched onto his hand and the fish, pulling him below.

Trish Carlin says she started screaming. Eventually Dan Carlin broke free. Trish steered the boat to the dock, and her husband later received medical care.

They remain fearful of sea lions.

“We intentionally don’t feed the seals, we don’t feed the birds. We take the carcasses and all the remains and put them in a bucket,” Trish Carlin said.

Said her husband: “I feel very lucky to be alive.”

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