A viral video captured by an unsuspecting university student shows the shocking moment a sea lion caught a girl by the dress and dragged her into the water on Canada’s West Coast.
The mammal appeared to be having a field day with the large number of “kind” visitors, before it sprang up a surprise attack.
During the incident which occurred in Richmond, a suburb in Vancouver, the sea lion popped up and moved toward an unsuspecting young girl while onlookers laughed.
The huge mammal fed on breadcrumbs from visitors at the park but seem to have fancied a girl who, according to the student Michael Fujiwara, was sitting on the pier’s edge.
Emotions flared in an instant as the sea lion grabbed its victim by the dress before she fell backwards into the water, making a huge splash.
“All of a sudden, the sea lion jumped up, grabbed her by the waist and just dragged her down into the water,” Fujiwara said of the nerve-wrecking incident.
Fujiwara told CBC News that people screamed as soon as they realized what had happened but a good Samaritan acted quickly and saved the day. He dived into the water immediately and rescued the helpless girl.
“She wasn’t crying or anything,” says the student who described the victim as 5 or 6 years old. “She was really shaken up though.”
The hero was later identified as the girl’s grandfather, according to CTV News.
Although the eyewitness says sea lions are a common sight around the area, he expressed concerns that he might never get close to one of the creatures anytime soon.
In the report from CTV News, Robert Kiesman [chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority] says visitors are to blame for failing to read signs and warnings at the location.
Feeding sea lions comes with its peculiar dangers even though people see this as a harmless act.
It is illegal to feed marine animals, according the country’s federal law.
Marine mammal expert Andrew Trites it’s possible that the mammal may have been attracted by the girl’s dress.
“It presumably thought the dress was food,” Trites said, ABC News reported.
Meanwhile, Kiesman says his staff think there’s a need for people to be sensitized on this “mindless behavior.”
“There are signs all over the dock that explicitly warn people not to feed the sea mammals and the penalty for ‘disturbing’ an animal is a $100,000 fine,” Kiesman said, according to a report from 41 NBC.com
“You wouldn’t go up to a grizzly bear in the bush and hand him a ham sandwich, so you shouldn’t be handing a thousand-pound wild animal in the water slices of bread,” he said.
“You can only spend so much time protecting people from their reckless behavior. We’ve now seen an example of why it’s illegal to do this and why it’s dangerous and frankly stupid to do this.
“We’re not SeaWorld here,” Kiesman advised. “They shouldn’t be doing this.”