If you thought sea lions were cute and cuddly — OK, maybe not the cuddly part, perhaps wet and slippery more than anything — because you’ve only seen them swimming elegantly in a giant tank, this video footage of a sea lion dragging a girl into water off a dock might change how you feel about them.
The incident took place in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, over the weekend, when onlookers were observing a wild sea lion that was hanging around, close to the wharf.
A little girl then briefly sat down, and the sea lion lunged out of the water and grabbed her dress, snatching her into the water.
It all happened very fast. One man immediately jumped into the water to rescue the little girl, and both were quickly helped out of the water.
The dramatic video was captured by university student Michael Fujiwara, who uploaded the footage to YouTube. He told the CBC News the girl’s family had been feeding bread to the sea lion, before it jumped out. “They were pretty shaken up,” Michael said. “Her family were just in shock.” Michael added that he had never seen a sea lion behave like this, despite seeing them often during his weekly visits to the dock.
Andrew Trites, the director of UBC’s Marine Mammal Research Unit, says the animals should not be blamed in incidents like this. “My first reaction to the video is just how stupid people can be to not treat wildlife with proper respect,” he said to 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.”
Andrew also thinks the sea lion must have mistaken the girl’s dress for food.
He thinks we can all learn something from this: “Keep your distance. Watch the animals, but let wildlife be wildlife.”