In what could have ended in a tragedy, a young girl was ‘attacked’ by a massive sea lion.
- Tourists feeding wild sea lion
- Sea lion jumped up and yanked girl into water
- Girl rescued by quick action of onlooker
The scene of tourists watching and feeding a huge sea lion swimming in the water would have been more fitting of a water park, but in this instance, it was at Steveston Wharf in Richmond, British Columbia, on Canada’s west coast,
The sea lion swimming in the water attracted a crowd and people squealed with glee when it lunged within inches of a young girl’s face. The girl sat by the pier’s edge, and suddenly, the mammal reached up again and grabbed the waist of her dress, yanking her backwards into the water in an instant.
As onlookers screamed in horror, an unidentified man swiftly jumped into the water. He promptly retrieved the girl, who left the scene quickly with her family. The sea lion also disappeared.
Local university student Michael Fujiwara, who captured the incident on video footage hat has already been viewed online more than two million times, said people were feeding the sea lion breadcrumbs – something Steveston Harbour Authority GM Bob Baziuik warns against.
“It’s not Sea World. It’s a place where you buy fish,” Baziuk tells CNN. “If you feed the animals like this you’re asking for trouble.”
He says the harbour is on the sea lions’ migratory route and that males sometimes swim into the area looking for free food.
Neither the girl, who appeared to be an Asian aged five or six years old, nor her rescuer, believed to be the girl’s grandfather, were hurt in the incident which took place on Saturday. According to Fujiwara, they seemed pretty much shaken, though.
Marine mammal expert Andrew Trites says the sea lion presumably thought the dress was food.
“My first reaction to the video is just how stupid some people can be to not treat wildlife with proper respect,” he told CBC News. “This was a male California sea lion. They are huge animals. They are not circus performers. They’re not trained to be next to people.”