Watch: Why Did This Canadian Sea Lion Yank a Young Girl into the Water?
Careful when you feed the animals...
By now you’ll likely have seen the video of the sea lion at Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada dragging a young girl into the water and cueing wide-spread panic among the surrounding tourists.
If you haven’t, it’s pretty much what it says on the tin.
Some tourists are filming a sea lion and commenting on how large it is – which is maybe why it got angry – and then the sea lion, who is being fed by a young girl on the edge of the water, decides to yank that girl full force into the water.
“He’s so cute," one tourist remarks before it happens. Not any more.
Once the girl has been yanked in there’s a whole lot of screaming and then a man – her father? – immediately jumps in after and brings her back out. Ultimately all that’s lost from the incident is a pair of sunglasses and a young girl’s trust in the animal kingdom.
Being an animal of course, the internet has sided largely with the sea lion, because most people prefer animals to humans. But we wanted to know – why exactly would a sea lion do that?
Now we’re no experts on sea lions. We don’t even know why they’re actually called sea lions. We get that they’re in the sea but they don’t look like lions at all. Where’s the mane? WHERE’S THE MANE? A sea lion in our eyes should look something like Mufasa in a pair of speedos.
But anyway, the image of your childhood role model in a pair of budgie-smugglers isn’t the reason you’re here. While we may not be experts on sea lions, there are some people out there who are. They say that the incident comes down to the fact that the people on the dock were feeding the sea lion.
Writing for National Geographic, Delaney Chambers says that: “The sea lion was not jumping onto the dock with the intention of eating the child, but in search of more of the food the people lining the dock were throwing."
Chambers writes that sea lions are also known to be curious animals and often circle divers in their area, biting their masks and equipment to test it out but never actually hurting the human or acting aggressively – which seems quite nice given they’ve just found a strange species in their home.
Delaney also writes that Director of Florida Program for Shark Research George Burgess said in an interview that feeding animals can have a long-term impact on their behaviour, teaching them to “equate humans with free food."
So the sea lion wasn’t after the young girl persay. It just wanted to either get her out of the way because it was hungry for more free food, or it was just biting her dress because it was curious as to what exactly it was. Either way, careful when you feed the animals!