'Horrific scene': Sea lion pulls girl into water in Richmond
A dramatic video that surfaced on social media shows a sea lion dragging a young girl off a dock at Steveston in Richmond.
The video was shot at around 6:45 p.m. on Saturday by Simon Fraser University student Michael Fujiwara, who later posted the video online with the words: “I captured a scary moment of a seal dragging a young girl into the water at the #Richmond Steveston Wharf.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Fujiwara told CTV Vancouver at the scene of the incident on Sunday. “Everyone was just gasping. They were screaming…It was pretty crazy.”
The student said he and several other people started filming the sea lion when it popped out of the water.
Fujiwara’s two-minute video shows people on the dock observing the animal and trying to catch its attention using hand gestures. At one point, the sea lion rises out of the water and approaches the girl, seen in the video wearing a white dress, before coming up for second time to pull her in. A male family member jumps in after the girl before the two are pulled to safety by the crowd on the dock.
The young girl is seen sitting on the edge of the wharf at the moment when the incident occurs.
“It was a pretty horrific scene,” Fujiwara said. “I was just in shock. I didn’t know what to do.”
The family members, he said, seemed “pretty shaken,” but unharmed after the incident.
By Sunday morning, the student’s video has been liked and shared hundreds of times.
Fujiwara said the attention his post has gotten has been “overwhelming,” with news stations from around the world contacting for more information.
Social media users also reacted to the video, most expressing their shock and sharing reminders about the importance of respecting wildlife.
@MichaelFujiwara Whiskers thought dress was food. should become part of a PSA for other would-be vulture tourists on the justdont's of feeding wild animals.— Heidi Staseson (@HeidiStaseson) May 21, 2017
@MichaelFujiwara That's not a seal, that's a sea lion. You don't mess with those. They shouldn't have been encouraging it.— Becky Knight (@bmeckie) May 21, 2017
@MichaelFujiwara Amazing capture. Hoping it teaches people to keep a respectful distance from wildlife, and not feed them.— judy rudin (@judyrudin) May 21, 2017
'Stupid people' to blame: harbour authority
While much of the social media attention has focused on the sea lion’s behavior, officials are blaming the actions of the humans in the video for the incident.
“The behavior of the adults in this particular video was really quite something,” Steveston Harbour Authority chairman Robert Kiesman told CTV Vancouver. “To be not only feeding the sea lion, a wild mammal, but then to let their little girl sit on the edge of the dock with her dress hanging over it (was) really mindless behavior.”
“It’s not an evil sea lion. It’s a wild mammal. It’s stupid people—that’s what it is.”
Kiesman said members of the harbor authority and fishermen on the docks are constantly warning the public against feeding the sea lions in the area, but that those warnings are often ignored.
“We’re actually hoping that all the media attention we’re getting on this this weekend will actually turn out to be a good thing—that people will actually see why these rules are in place,” Kiesman said. “After all, it is illegal to feed sea lions, but now they’ll see why it’s actually dangerous.”
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald