The terrifying video of a sea lion snatching a little girl off the edge of a dock and yanking her into murky British Columbia seawaters last weekend is buzzing across the internet and social media today – and drawing some critical insights.
Michael Fujiwara, a college student from Vancouver B.C., captured the video Saturday at the Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond. It shows the large male sea lion suddenly lurching and pulling the girl into the water, with a man jumping in after the child to save her. There reportedly were no injuries.
Robert Kiesman, chairman of the Steveston Harbour Authority, lambasted the girl’s family for reckless behavior, telling the CBC News signs posted at the popular tourist destination warn people not to feed the sea mammals that frequent the area.
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 mammal in the water slices of bread.
Robert Kiesman, Steveston (B.C.) Harbour Authority
“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 mammal in the water slices of bread,” Kiesman said.
“And you certainly shouldn’t be letting your little girl sit on the edge of the dock with her dress hanging down after the sea lion has already snapped at her once. Just totally reckless behavior.”
Danielle Hyson, a senior marine-mammal trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium, explained to The Vancouver Sun that the animal forewarned of his aggressive behavior.
“You saw him kind of initially lunge out of the water and give a little huff. That’s what we would call an aggressive precursor,” she told The Sun. “So he’s letting the people know that he’s starting to get frustrated. And in that situation, the people should have backed off right away.”
Hyson noted that male California sea lions are powerful animals that can weigh more than 200 kilograms – about 440 pounds.
(Sea lions) look like they’re water dogs, but they absolutely are not. They can do a lot of damage.
Danielle Hyson, marine-mammal trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium
The powerful animals have big eyes and whiskers that seem cute, she noted.
“They look like they’re water dogs, but they absolutely are not,” Hyson said. “They can do a lot of damage.”
Fujiwara, the college student who shot the video, told CBC News the girl and her family were dumbstruck by the attack.
“They were pretty shaken up,” he said. “Her family were just in shock.”
The family had been feeding the sea lion breadcrumbs, which is probably what attracted the animal to the crowd, Fujiwara said.
“It initially jumped up to the girl to read her, I guess,” he said. “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.”