There are some things tourists and families trying to have a good time have come to expect on vacation. Feeding ducks in a park, taking pictures of local wildlife, and even maybe interacting with some calm animals are all fair game, for the most part. But there are times when unexpected dangers can, quite literally, come at you from behind. For example, a video of a sea lion dragging a girl into the water recently went viral — and it's now serving as an important, albeit unfortunate reminder to parents that sometimes even the safest-seeming activities are fraught with potential dangers.
A man in Steveston Fisherman's Wharf in Richmond, British Columbia captured the terrifying moment a sea lion snatched a little girl's dress and pulled her into the water, carrying her about a foot from the dock until a man jumped in to save her. Before the sea lion grabbed the girl, the child's family had been feeding the creature bread crumbs, amazed at how close it was coming to the dock and to the humans, clearly not afraid. But it only took a few seconds for a moment of joy and curiosity to turn into a real-life nightmare. Michael Fujiwara, the man who recorded the traumatic events, told CNN that "her family started feeding the animal and the sea lion started to become comfortable," right before things took a turn for the worse.
The whiskered creature initially garnered glee and shrieks of delight from the family and other visitors at the waterfront, as it made its presence known. In fact, soon before grabbing the girl, the seal popped up quickly out of the water, splashing the girl in the face, while onlookers and the girl herself all laughed. But then, the girl turned her back to the water, and the sea lion lunged.
The energy immediately shifted, with screams and shouts filling the air as an unidentified man jumped in mere seconds later, to retrieve the girl and get her out of the water as quickly as possible. Once everyone was out of the water, Fujiwara could be heard asking the rescuer if he was OK. "After being pulled back onto the dock, the family quickly walked away from the area without saying much," he told CNN.
Of important note, though, is that sea lions generally don't attack humans unless provoked. "As a rule, sea lions don't attack," a professor at the University of British Columbia told NBC News. "They are fearful and keep their distance from people unless they've been habitually conditioned to expect food." And as the dock that the event took place at is a pretty touristy area, it's likely that sea lions are used to getting free food from the humans there.
Hopefully, the girl, her rescuer, and her family are all okay now. As Fujiwara noted after the girl was saved, the family didn't say anything to anyone really, and who can blame them? "They were probably very shaken up and just wanted to get away from the sea lion as fast as possible," he said.
Truly, after such a dramatic family outing, they definitely deserve some peace and quiet. And hopefully all families can learn to keep a safe distance from wild animals, no matter how cute they are in the movies.