A young girl was dragged into the water by a sea lion off a Richmond, British Columbia dock over the weekend. In reaction, port officials have blasted the young girl’s family for "reckless behaviour.”
According to the CBC, there are several signs posted at destination warning people not to feed the sea animals.
"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," said Robert Kiesman, chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority. "And you certainly shouldn't be letting your little girl sit on the edge of the dock with her dress hanging down after the sea lion has already snapped at her once. Just totally reckless behaviour."
A Richmond resident captured video on Saturday showing a sea lion grabbing the young girl by her dress and dragging her into the water off the dock.
The video initially shows a sea lion swimming around the dock. The animal swims closer after grabbing a piece of food that someone threw according to the Washington Post. The sea mammal comes up close to the little girl's face before she sits down on the bench. It is then that the animal grabs her by the dress.
The girl is rescued and seems to be okay albeit shocked. She has not been identified. Danielle Hyson, a senior marine mammal trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium, told the CBC that if the girl has a puncture from the incident, her family should call the aquarium. Hyson said bacteria in sea lions' mouths can cause a specific infection which would need specific treatment.
The harbour authority has posted more even more signs along the dock where the girl was attacked Saturday, according to the CBC. The signs state the maximum penalty for disturbing a marine mammal is $100,000. The signs additionally warn that sea lion bites "can cause very serious infections that may lead to amputation of a limb or even death."
"You can only spend so much time protecting people from their reckless behaviour," said Kiesman. "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."