Not cool, sea lion.
A cellphone video captured the nerve-wracking rescue of a young girl who was grabbed by her dress and dragged into a Canadian harbor by a sea lion on Saturday.
In the video, taken at Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf in Richmond, British Columbia, a California sea lion is seen inching closer to a group of people admiring it from a dock.
The animal is seen stealthily sticking its head in and out of the water as it approached the crowd who was cheering for it to swim near them, while pieces of food â presumably thrown in by the crowd â are floating in the water.
The video then shows a man putting his hand out, seemingly to urge the animal to come closer and show itself.
The sea lion then jumps out and back into the water after getting dangerously close to a young girl who was looking over the harbor â prompting claps and laughter from the group.
But when the girl sits at the edge of the harbor to get an even closer look, the animal springs up grabs a hold of her dress and forcefully yanks her backward into the water as onlookers scream in horror.
Spectators are heard yelling “Oh my God!” repeatedly.
In an instant, a fully dressed man courageously dives into the water, grabs the girl and the two are seen climbing back onto the dock. The girl is then seen being quickly ushered away by her family.
“They were pretty shaken up,” he said. “Her family were just in shock.”
He said a family began feeding the sea lion bread crumbs, which is probably what attracted the animal to the crowd.
“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.”
Many on social media were quick to condemn the crowd for egging on a wild animal to come closer.
“As a rule, sea lions don’t attack,” said Andrew Trites, a professor who oversees the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia. “They are fearful and keep their distance from people unless they’ve been habitually conditioned to expect food,” he said.
People in the video were feeding the animal and “taunting” it, which is a huge no-no, he said.
“People don’t understand that this is not a tamed animal you might see at a circus or in a movie, these are wild animals who are hungry,” he said. “And if they are habitually trained to get food, they will come close and want it,” he said.
Trites said that he did not see any “aggression” on the part of the sea lion towards the girl. “All I saw was an animal that was calm, curious and hungry,” he said.
“Even after it all happened, the sea lion stayed in the same spot, still waiting to be fed,” he said.