If a wild, "dangerous" sea lion grabs a girl and drags her under water, who is to blame? Michael Fujiwara's YouTube video of a sea lion attack in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, went viral over the weekend, and now people are asking that very question. Canadian port officials claim the "reckless behavior" of the little girl's family was responsible for the sea lion grabbing a human in the first place. Worse, a bite from a sea lion's teeth can cause an infection, which requires specific treatment.
The incident first took place on a dock this past Saturday at the Steveston Fisherman's Wharf in Richmond, British Columbia. Fujiwara noticed that a wild sea lion had popped its head out of the water, so he began to film the seemingly friendly sea creature for a family YouTube video. A crowd began to gather, and allegedly people began feeding the wild animal bread crumbs. The little girl, who has yet to be named, seated herself on the edge of the pier, and without warning, the seal lion grabbed the girl with its teeth and dragged her down into the water.
Another man, perhaps a relative, immediately jumped in after to save the little girl. Fortunately, both the little girl and her rescuer were unharmed, although she was certainly shocked by the sea lion attack.
The harbor authority responded to the sea lion attack by posting more warning signs along the dock where the little girl was grabbed. The signs clearly state "Please Do Not Feed The Sea Lions," and visitors are warned that "disturbing" a marine animal carries a maximum penalty of $100,000.
New signs going up in #steveston #sealions #warning pic.twitter.com/J8c4V2djrm
— Meera Bains (@Meerakati) May 21, 2017
The signs also warn that a sea lion bite "can cause very serious infections that may lead to amputation of a limb or even death." Danielle Hyson, a senior marine mammal trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium, is concerned that the sea lion attack could cause lasting harm if the sea lion's bite scratched or punctured the skin of the little girl. Hyson says a sea lion's teeth and mouth can cause a specific bacterial infection, and she has publicly offered the help of the aquarium to any doctor who might be treating the girl.
Andrew Trites, the director of UBC's Marine Mammal Research Unit, said the sea lion attack could not be blamed on the animal. Trites has analyzed Fujiwara's sea lion video, and he believes the creature may have mistaken the little girl's dress for food. The director notes that the sea lions are not purposefully looking to grab people, and he believes the incident provides the perfect example for why visitors should not feed wild animals.
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Robert Kiesman, chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority, lambasted the family for letting their little girl sit at the edge of the pier after sea lion had already snapped its teeth in her direction. Worse, there were multiple signs warning people not to feed the animals. Kiesman compared this "totally reckless behavior" to a hypothetical scenario where a man went up to a grizzly bear in a bush and tried to hand the bear a ham sandwich.
In the same manner, the chairman said, "You shouldn't be handing a thousand-pound wild mammal in the water slices of bread."
"You can only spend so much time protecting people from their reckless behaviour," said Kiesman, according to CBC News. "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."
[Featured Image by Kristel Segeren/Shutterstock]