A young girl was pulled off the Steveston Fisherman Wharf and into the water by a sea lion in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, on May 20 (video below).
Michael Fujiwara, who filmed a video of the incident, recalled the bizarre turn of events to the Vancouver Sun:
I was just sitting by the dock and then this sea lion popped its head out of the water just in front of me. I just took out my cell phone and started filming.
The sea lion actually attracted a lot of attention from the visitors there, including the young girl. 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 recalled the moment that the sea lion grabbed the girl to CBC News: "And it initially jumped up to the girl to read her I guess. And then it came back up a second time, but this time grabbing the girl by the waist and dragging her down into the water."
In the video, a man jumped into the water to rescue the girl.
Fujiwara didn't know if the man was related to the girl, but did say that no one appeared to be injured; the girl and her family quickly left the dock.
"They were pretty shaken up," Fujiwara recalled. "Her family [was] just in shock."
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Fujiwara said he goes to the docks once a week, and often spies sea lions, but had never seen anything like when the girl was yanked into the water.
He posted his video on YouTube May 20, and by May 22 it had over 16 million views.
Andrew Trites, the director of UBC's Marine Mammal Research Unit, opined on the viral video:
My first reaction to the video is just how stupid some people can be to not treat wildlife with proper respect. 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.
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.
Canada's Marine Mammal Regulations say that "no person shall disturb a marine mammal except when fishing."
"You keep your distance," Trites added. "Watch the animals, but let wildlife be wildlife."
(Note: Sea lion grabs girl at 1:40 mark)