A sea lion in Canada dragged a young girl into Pacific waters off the coast of Canada Saturday, causing a man to jump in after her. A student caught the dramatic situation on camera after he started filming the seemingly harmless aquatic animal.
Throughout most of the video, the sea lion can be seen raising above the water line, perhaps surveying the girl and other bystanders.
Onlookers, who were originally marveling at the marine life, became quite distressed once they saw the sea lion go over the dock, bite the girl and pull her under water. A man (presumably her father, relative or family friend) jumped after her to ensure that she was not being dragged into the depths of the sea and that she could make it back onto Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf safely.
“They were pretty shaken up,” said Michael Fujiwara, the student who filmed the whole ordeal, according to CBC News. “Her family were just in shock.”
The family appears to be quite lucky that nothing worse happened, at least according to Andrew Trites, the director of University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit.
“My first reaction to the video is just how stupid some people can be to not treat wildlife with proper respect,” Trites 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.”
Trites wants the video to be a lesson for all animal appreciators and tourists.
“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. But it wasn’t food of course,” Trites continued. “You keep your distance. Watch the animals, but let wildlife be wildlife.”
This incident isn’t the first time a sea lion has dragged a girl into water in recent years. A father of a five-year-old girl said he was cleaning fish on a dock in 2009 when he heard a splash nearby.
“I looked over and my daughter had disappeared, and I thought, well, Caleigh has fallen into the water. She has her life jacket on, so she’ll just pop back up to the surface,” the dad said, according to CBC News, adding that it took her multiple seconds to appear above the water.
“When she popped to the surface, she said, ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, the seal!’ and I said, ‘What?’,” he recalled. “This thing must have taken a running start to be able to launch itself four feet out of the water, grab a 50-pound five-year-old and then drag her underneath the water with a life-jacket on.”