Watch: California sea lion grabs girl from dock and pulls her underwater

A young girl was left shaken after a large sea lion grabbed her dress and pulled her underwater in Richmond near Vancouver, writes Pam Ryan.

The incident was caught on video by a student named Michael Fujiwara.

The clip shows the girl sitting on the dock's edge watching the animal swimming before it took her dress between its teeth and pulled her beneath the water's surface.

Onlookers at Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf screamed and a man thought to be a relative of the girl jumped in and lifted her back up onto the dock. Neither the girl nor the man seen in the video were injured.

The sea lion appeared to have been drawn to the dock by people who were throwing bread crumbs into the water.

"The sea lion actually attracted a lot of attention from the visitors there, including the young girl," Michael Fujiwara told the Vancouver Sun. "She and her family, I guess, they came, they started feeding the animal bread crumbs or whatever it was, and then I guess the animal got a little too comfortable.

"They were pretty shaken up," Fujiwara told CBC News. "Her family were just in shock."

Fujiwara said he goes to the dock regularly but has never seen anything like what he captured in the video.

Professor Andrew Trites, the director of the marine mammal research unit at the University of British Columbia, said the sea lion was not at fault in this incident.

"My first reaction to the video is just how stupid some people can be to not treat wildlife with proper respect," he told CBC News. "This was a male California sea lion. They are huge animals. They are not circus performers. They’re not trained to be next to people."

Prof Trites said the sea lion in the video looked like it was used to having people feed it.

"The little girl has her back to the sea lion and it would appear that the sea lion sees part of her dress, thinks it’s food, reaches up, grabs at the food and pulls her in by the dress. But it wasn’t food, of course."

He hopes the video of the encounter will teach people not to feed wild animals like sea lions in the future. Such animals, he added, are not naturally dangerous.

He concluded: "You keep your distance. Watch the animals, but let wildlife be wildlife."

Attacks by sea lions, which are about the same size as a six-foot man and weighs about 610 to 860 pounds, on humans are rare, Lieutenant John Sandmeyer told a local television station in San Diego, where a sea lion dragged a 62-year-old man from his boat and aprroximately 20 feet underwater. Dan Carlin was posing for a picture with a yellowtail fish he had caught when the sea lion bit into his hand and pulled him overboard, the TV station reported.

Carlin survived the 2015 incident but his hand required 20 stitches.

H/T to The Guardian and The Washington Post

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