A young girl was pulled into the water near Richmond, B.C., by a sea lion Saturday in a dramatic scene that was captured on a video.
The video, captured by Vancouver resident Michael Fujiwara, shows the large marine mammal slowly circling the area before it suddenly lunges from the water, nipping at the girl’s dress and pulling her into the water.
Fujiwara said he was at Steveston Wharf around 6:30 p.m. when he spotted a sea lion in the water and pulled out his cellphone.
“A young girl came around with her family and they just started to feed it bread crumbs,” he said. “They were getting a little too close to it, for sure.
“The sea lion seemed pretty friendly at first. It jumped up to the girl, gave her a little greeting, but seconds after when she tried to sit down on the dock, it just came back up … and dragged her in the water.”
As screams erupt from the crowd, a family member immediately leaps into the water, grabs the child and takes her to safety.
The girl appears terrified but physically unharmed, and was immediately whisked away from the scene by an adult.
“They seemed to be OK but they were really in shock,” Fujiwara said. “They didn’t really want to talk to anyone. They just got straight out of the area.”
“I do see a lot of sea lions around here but I’ve never really seen it come into contact with humans before. I guess that’s what you get for getting too close to one.”
Following the incident, the Steveston Harbour Authority put up signs on the dock that read, “Please do not feed the sea lions.”
WATCH: Sea Lion drags young girl into water at Richmond’s Steveston wharf
Workers say the newly-built dock only opened a couple of weeks ago so warning signs that can be seen on older docks had not yet been posted.
Andrew Trites with UBC’s Marine Mammal Research Unit said the child’s family was “clearly ill-prepared” for an encounter with a sea lion.
“For whatever reason the family didn’t recognize that this was a wild animal, nobody’s pet,” Trites said. “This isn’t something that was at all normal.
“Just as if you saw a bear come up to your child that close — or maybe a dog you’re not familiar with — you don’t allow your children to get that close to that potential harm.”
— With files from The Canadian Press