Speed Reads

don't feed the sea lions

After a sea lion yanks a little girl off a dock, officials blast her family for 'reckless behavior'

Sea lions are adorable and entertaining until they pull small children into the harbor, millions of horrified viewers learned from a viral video this weekend. But Vancouver B.C. harbor officials don't blame the sea lion — instead, they're blasting the family of the girl who was dragged into the water Saturday for "reckless behavior," the Seattle Times reports.

Despite signs posted in the area warning visitors not to feed marine mammals, the little girl was feeding the sea lion bread when it grabbed her by her dress and pulled her into the water. The girl can be seen in the video being rescued by a man who dives in after her, and although shaken, she appears to walk away relatively unscathed. But Robert Kiesman, the chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority, expressed frustration over the incident. "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," he said. "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 behavior."

California sea lions might not quite weigh a thousand pounds, but they can get up to 860 pounds and "can do a lot of damage," Vancouver Aquarium marine mammal trainer Danielle Hyson said. "You saw [the sea lion] kind of initially lunge out of the water and give a little huff. That's what we would call an aggressive precursor," Hyson told The Vancouver Sun. "He's letting the people know that he's starting to get frustrated. And in that situation, the people should have backed off right away."

Hyson added a warning that many people are well aware of now: "They look like they're water dogs, but they absolutely are not."