A Canadian port official is blaming the family of the young girl for their “reckless behavior” after a terrifying video captured a sea lion dragging her from a dock on Saturday.
“You certainly shouldn’t be letting your girl sit on the edge of the dock with her dress hanging down after the sea lion has already snapped at her once,”
Robert Kiesman, chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority, told CBC.
Kiesman said there were several signs at the harbor warning people not to feed the mammals.
“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 mammal in the water slices of bread,” he told the TV station.
Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations says that “no person shall disturb a marine mammal except when fishing for marine mammals.”
New signs at the dock read, “Do not feed the sea lions,” and a maximum penalty for “disturbing” the mammals is $100,000.
The signs also warn that a sea lion’s bite “can cause very serious infections that may lead to amputation of a limb or even death.”
Danielle Hyson, a trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium, told CBC that the girl’s family should call the aquarium if she had suffered any injuries.
She said bacteria from a sea lion’s mouth might cause an infection and she may need treatment.
Michael Fujiwara, 23, recorded the video showing a California sea lion grabbing the girl’s dress while she was sitting at the edge of the dock and dragging her underwater.
The dramatic scene prompted a family member to jump into the water to rescue her.
The video quickly went viral after Fujiwara posted it online.
“I was just in shock. I didn’t know what to do at first,” he told Canada’s The Star.
He said the family was feeding the sea lion bread crumbs before the incident. He added that no one appeared to have been injured and the family immediately left the area.