A video of a girl being yanked into the water by a sea lion has made its rounds over the web, with critics placing blame on her parents.
According to The Washington Post, the incident happened on Saturday (May 20) while onlookers were enjoying the weather at the dock in Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf close to Vancouver, B.C. Michael Fujiwara captured the moment a sea lion came towards the dock while pedestrians tossed food in the water. A few moments later, a girl is seen engaging with the animal. As soon as she sits on the dock, the sea lion bites her dress and pulls her into the water.
A man believed to her grandfather instantly jumps into the water. Neither was hurt and the video has gone on to be viewed over 12 million times on YouTube. “And it initially jumped up to the girl to read her I guess,” Fujiwara told CBC News. “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. They were pretty shaken up. Her family was just in shock.”
Robert Kiesman of the Steveston Harbour Authority has blamed the parents due to the fact that there are rules on the doc that prohibit people not to feed the sea animals. “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 animal in the water slices of bread,” he said to NBC News. “You can only spend so much time protecting people from their reckless behavior. 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.”
— Michael Fujiwara (@MichaelFujiwara) May 21, 2017
Commentators on the video have thrown in jokes alluding to Harambe, a gorilla who was killed last year after dragging a three year-old-boy who climbed into the animal’s enclosure. Others have slammed the parents for allowing the girl to sit on the dock just seconds after the sea lion initially reached out to the group.
Marine experts have identified the animal as a wild California sea lion with Andrew Tites, director of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit, calling for pedestrians to know the difference between a wild and trained animal. “My first reaction to the video is just how stupid some people can be to not treat wildlife with proper respect,” he said. “They are not circus performers. They’re not trained to be next to people.” Others believe the sea lion might have thought the girl’s dress was food.
The family hasn’t publicly commented on the incident, but Tites has a message for them and others. “You keep your distance. Watch the animals, but let wildlife be wildlife,” he said.