Sea lion mistakes young girl for food, drags her off wharf

Sea lion Jukin girl Vancouver Canada
The moment the sea lion grabs the young girl's dress and drags her into the deep (YouTube / Jukin Media)

A young girl got an unwelcome surprise over the weekend, after her family's feeding of a sea lion resulted in her being hauled off the edge of the pier by the animal, and into the water.

In footage of the incident, the girl can be seen feeding the sea lion at a pier in Vancouver, Canada, before sitting down - with the animal jumping up out of the water and grabbing her dress, before pulling her in.

Those on the pier started screaming, but a man believed to be a relative of the girl immediately jumped into the water to save her, losing his sunglasses in the process - pulling her up to the pier before climbing up to safety himself.

While it's likely the sea lion thought the girl was food, and would have let her go as soon as it realised she wasn't, the incident left her and her entire family shaken - and they immediately left.

"The sea lion actually attracted a lot of attention from the visitors there, including the young girl," Michael Fujiwara, the man who filmed the incident, told The Vancouver Sun.

"She and her family, they came, they started feeding the animal bread crumbs or whatever it was, and then I guess the animal got a little too comfortable."

Professor Andrew Trites, a marine mammal researcher at the University of British Columbia, said the incident is just what happens when people do not "treat wildlife with proper respect".

"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," he told CBC News.

"You keep your distance. Watch the animals, but let wildlife be wildlife."

The girl is believed to be uninjured.

Newshub.