A young girl touring with her family near Richmond, British Columbia, was pulled into the water by a sea lion on Saturday and it was all caught on camera.
In the heart-stopping video, which has since gone viral with more than 14 million views on YouTube, a group of tourists can be seen admiring and feeding the sea lion at Steveston Harbor.
The little girl leans over the edge of the dock so she could get a closer look, and the animal pokes his head out of the water to do the same.
She decides to sit down on the railing, turning her back from the sea lion, and that’s when it grabs the little girl by the white dress and drags her into the water as other tourists and family members look on in horror.
One quick-thinking man, who is believed to be a relative, jumps after the girl and pulls her back to safety.
Michael Fujiwara, who captured the shocking moment on film, told CBC News that the girl’s family “were just in shock” after the incident.
“They were pretty shaken up,” Fujiwara said.
Andrew Trites, the director of UBC’s Marine Mammal Research Unit, told the station that the sea lion probably thought the girl’s dress was food and he doesn’t blame the animal for its behavior.
“My first reaction to the video is just how stupid some people can be to not treat wildlife with proper respect,” Trites said. “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.”
Check out the terrifying scene below:
Bob Baziuk, the general manager of the Steveston Harbour Authority, told CNN that no injuries have been reported, and that he is looking for more information on the incident.
Baziuk explained that Steveston Harbor is part of the sea lions’ migratory route and the males often swim nearby in search of free food.
The general manager said that the harbor has warned visitors for years not to feed the animals.
“It’s not Sea World, it’s a place where you buy fish,” Baziuk said. “If you feed the animals like this you’re asking for trouble.”