An onlooker captured dramatic video Saturday showing a sea lion grabbing a young girl by the dress and dragging her into the water off a dock in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.
CBC reports that Simon Fraser University student, Michael Fujiwara was on the docks when he noticed a large, male sea lion approach onlookers and started filming as a crowd watched the animal in awe.
Fujiwara said that a family started feeding breadcrumbs to the sea lion while a young girl got close to the edge of the dock.
"It initially jumped up to the girl to read her I guess," he told the CBC. "And then it came back up a second time, but this time grabbing the girl by the waist and dragging her down into the water."
In the video, the girl is abruptly dragged into the water, while a man immediately goes right after her. While it is unknown if the rescuer was related to the young girl, Fujiwara says it appeared that no one was injured in the incident, but that the young girl and those with her left immediately following.
"They were pretty shaken up," he said. "Her family were just in shock."
Fujiwara who visits the docks once a week sees sea lions often, but never witnessed anything quite like this.
The CBC spoke to Andrew Trites, the director of the University of British Columbia's Marine Mammal Research Unit and said he does not 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," he 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."
According to the country's Marine Mammal Regulations, "no person shall disturb a marine mammal except when fishing."
From the looks of the video and sea lion's behavior, Trite says it appears as if the mammal is used to being fed by humans. However, he hopes the dramatic event will teach others to not feed wild animals like sea lions. He shares they are not inherently dangerous, nor looking to grab people.
"You keep your distance. Watch the animals, but let wildlife be wildlife," he said.