The latest on this story: The father of the little girl grabbed by the sea lion says the child and her grandparents were not feeding the animal when the attacked occurred. "There was somebody beside them that was trying to feed them. Also, they weren't trying to take pictures or anything," said the father, identified only by his last name Lau, to CBC News. He said his daughter went to the front to get a closer look. He admitted she was too close to the wild animals.
"That's a lesson she took and she has taken that lesson in a hard way," he said.
Lau credits the girl's fast-acting grandfather for pulling her to safety. She has a superficial wound and is being treated with antibiotics.
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Maybe you've seen or heard about the terrifying video featuring a bold sea lion and a curious little girl.
She was sitting on a dock at the Steveston Fisherman's Wharf in Richmond, British Columbia, watching what looked like a playful, curious animal in the water. College student Michael Fujiwara saw the sea lion pop its head out of the water and began filming. The little girl and her family were part of a crowd that had gathered to watch.
"Her family started feeding the animal and the sea lion started to become comfortable," Fujiwara told CNN.
In the video, you can hear people laughing and calling to the animal and commenting on how cute it is.
At one point, the sea lion lunges at the little girl, within inches of her face. She giggles and settles back down on the dock to watch.
"It initially jumped up to the girl to read her I guess," Fujiwara told CBC News. "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."
A man immediately jumped in the water and pulled the girl to safety. His glasses went flying and his cellphone got soaked in his back pocket.
For me, the best thing about the #sealion video is the action hero dad who's in the water seconds after his daughter. Brilliant.— Antony Thrower (@AntonyThrower86) May 21, 2017
News stories and social media posts say the man is likely the little girl's grandfather, but some theorize he may be her father or possibly a total stranger.
Fujiwara told CBC News that he didn't know if the man was related to the little girl. He said it looked like no one was hurt, but the girl and the people with her left as soon as she got back on the dock.
"They were pretty shaken up," he said. "Her family were just in shock."
Bob Baziuk, general manager of the Steveston Harbour Authority, told CNN that the harbor is on the sea lions' migratory route and said that males sometimes swim into the area looking for food handouts. He said for years they have warned visitors not to feed the animals.
"It's not Sea World, it's a place where you buy fish," Baziuk said. "If you feed the animals like this, you're asking for trouble."
Robert Kiesman, chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority, told CBC News that there are signs posted in the area warning people not to feed the animals. More signs have been put up since the attack and staff are patrolling the area to give verbal warnings.
"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," Kiesman 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."
The signs say sea lion bites "can cause very serious infections that may lead to amputation of a limb or even death" and the maximum penalty for disturbing a marine mammal is $100,000.
Andrew Trites, director of the University of British Columbia's Marine Mammal Research Unit, told CBC News that the male California sea lion in the video was likely just looking for food and was accustomed to having people feed it.
"The little girl has her back to the sea lion and it would appear that the sea lion sees part of her dress, thinks it's food, reaches up, grabs at the food and pulls her in by the dress," he said. "But it wasn't food of course."
Trites said he hopes the video will teach people to respect wildlife, but points out that they aren't looking to grab people and drag them away.
"Watch the animals, but let wildlife be wildlife."
Other sea lion encounters
Filmmaker Russell Clark swam with dozens of sea lions off the coast of Vancouver Island. He said interacting with the large group of animals was intimidating at first, but he and his team didn't feel threatened, even when they started nibbling him.
"It's not painful at all," he told CBC's "All Points West." "They want to see if you're squishy I think."
The curious animals surrounded Clark and his team, bumping them and swimming around them, often showing off trick-like behaviors.
"They want to know what this big clumsy animal is in their ocean," said Clark. "Sometimes you'll see a swarm of 30 or maybe even 50 of them charging towards you."
Dan Carlin's experience wasn't quite so positive. He was posing with a yellowtail fish he had caught on his boat in Mission Bay in San Diego a couple years ago when a sea lion leaped from the water, bit onto his hand and dragged him overboard.
The animal slammed him against the side of the boat and dragged him underwater where it violently whipped him back and forth. It finally released him, biting him again on the foot before Carlin made it safely back onto his boat.
"So many times, you see videos of cute seals, sea lions, but I'm sharing what happened to me because I want parents to realize these are wild aggressive animals that can take you down," Carlin told the Associated Press. "They should be given a wide berth. At least a small child should do that, but also just about anybody should."
Editor's note: This file has been updated.