Dramatic cell phone footage captured the startling moment that a sea lion grabbed a young girl’s dress and pulled her into the water at a harbor in Canada.
College student Michael Fujiwara — who does not know the girl — was filming the crowd gathering around the male sea lion at Steveston Harbour in Richmond, British Columbia on Saturday. Fujiwara told the CBC that the surrounding crowd had been feeding the sea lion bread crumbs.
The video shows the girl nearing the edge of the dock before the sea lion leaps from the water, grabs her dress and pulls her into the water. A man is then seen diving into the water himself to pull the girl out of the water. Fujiwara told the CBC that it did not appear that anyone was injured, but that the girl’s family seemed “pretty shaken up.”
Fujiwara referred to the animal a “killer sea lion,” on YouTube. However, Andrew Trites, director of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit, told NBC News that the sea lion likely wasn’t “attacking” the girl, but was trying to get more food.
“All I saw was an animal that was calm, curious and hungry,” he said. He noted that sea lions typically stay away from humans unless they’ve been “conditioned to expect food.”
Bob Baziuk, general manager of the Steveston Harbour Authority, told CNN that officials has been trying to convince visitors for years to stop feeding the wild animals.
“If you feed the animals like this, you’re asking for trouble,” he said.