A bystander captured video Saturday of a sea lion dragging a young girl into the water off a wharf in Richmond, British Columbia.
In the viral video, posted to YouTube by Richmond resident Michael Fujiwara, the California sea lion swims up to Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf in Richmond, a Vancouver suburb, then approaches a young girl leaning over a low railing over the water. The girl sits on the railing, and the sea lion lunges up, snatches her dress in its mouth and pulls her backward into the water.
Amid screams and cries of “Oh my God,” a man jumps into the water and pulls the girl to safety without further interference from the sea lion. Fujiwara says in his description of the video that no one was injured in the incident.
“The sea lion actually attracted a lot of attention from the visitors there, including the young girl,” Fujiwara told The Vancouver Sun. “She and her family, I guess, they came, they started feeding the animal bread crumbs or whatever it was, and then I guess the animal got a little too comfortable.”
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Fujiwara’s YouTube video of the incident has been viewed more than 846,000 times since he posted it Saturday, though his "killer sea lion" label caused some consternation. His Twitter post with the video has been retweeted more than 480 times.
Andrew Trite, director of the University of Britsh Columbia marine mammal research video, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation the incident illustrates why people should keep their distance from wildlife. “My first reaction to the video is just how stupid some people can be to not treat wildlife with proper respect,” he told the broadcaster.
“The little girl has her back to the sea lion and it would appear that the sea lion sees part of her dress, thinks it’s food, reaches up, grabs at the food and pulls her in by the dress,” Trite said. “But it wasn’t food, of course.”