Sea lion grabs young girl from dock, pulls her underwater

A viral video shows the terrifying moment a sea lion crept behind a young girl and pulled her into the water at Steveston Harbour in British Columbia.

The girl was feeding the animal when she was yanked underwater by the sea mammal. As her family stood in horror, one man immediately jumped into the water and rescued the girl. Several witnesses helped them back onto the dock.

Michael Fujiwara, a university student in Richmond, began filming it as a crowd gathered around the sea lion. He said the family fed the animal bread crumbs before it pulled the young girl into the water.

"They were pretty shaken up," Fujiwara told Canada's CBC News. "Her family were just in shock."

He says he doesn't believe the girl was injured but she and her family immediately left the area.

Bruce Okabe, CEO of Tourism Richmond, responded to the incident Sunday, calling it a "rare" and "isolated occurrence."

"Richmond is one of the safest cities in North America," Okabe said in a statement to CBS News. "We believe the incident involving a child and sea lion is a rare and isolated occurrence and we would not expect to see it happen again. The safety of all tourists is of a top priority for us and I cannot stress how safe visitors are in any part of our city."

"Interactions with wild animals should always be approached with caution," Okabe added. "We hope she wasn't injured."

Andrew Trites, director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia, said he doesn't blame the wild sea lion because they're "not trained to be next to people."

He told CBC News that he hopes the encounter will teach others not to feed wildlife: "You keep your distance. Watch the animals, but let wildlife be wildlife."