Sea Lion Drags Girl Into Water After Family's 'Reckless Behavior'
The viral video of a young girl snatched off a Richmond, British Columbia dock by a sea lion is another reminder that people shouldn't get too close to wild animals.
Port officials in Canada have sharply criticized the family for putting themselves at risk for feeding the large animal, especially since there are several signs in the area warning people not to do so.
"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, chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority, told CBC News.
"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," he added. "Just totally reckless behavior."
Footage of the Saturday encounter shows a sea lion eating bread that a family was tossing into the water. It then swims near the family, lunges out of the water and grabs the girl by her dress, pulling her into the water. The girl is quickly rescued and the family walks away in shock.Canada's Marine Mammal Regulations specify that "no person shall disturb a marine mammal except when fishing."
The signs at the docks even warn that sea lion bites "can cause very serious infections that may lead to amputation of a limb or even death." The maximum fine for "disturbing" a marine mammal is $100,000.
"You can only spend so much time protecting people from their reckless behavior," Kiesman continued. "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."
Andrew Trites, director of UBC's Marine Mammal Research Unit, told CBC News that the sea lion in the video seemed used to being fed by people and probably mistook the girl's dress for food.
Trites said the animal should not be blamed for its behavior as the animals are not inherently dangerous and are not looking to grab people. He hopes the video teaches others to not feed wild animals like sea lions.