This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
After the video of a little girl getting pulled into the water by a wild sea lion in BC went stupid viral this weekend, tourists have been flocking to where it was shot. The swarm of attention to the area is at odds with warnings posted by a government agency following the incident, which occurred at Steveston Fisherman's Wharf in Richmond. The warnings posted at the site of the incident say that there is a max penalty fine of $10,000 for disturbing a marine mammal.
On Victoria Day, dozens of people were seen at the wharf the viral moment occurred at, taking photos and looking into the water trying to get a glimpse of the famous sea lion. One told CBC News that she had brought her grandkids there in an attempt to see the animal that had dragged another child into the water just days earlier.
The original YouTube video has over 18 million views and has been duplicated all over social media countless times.
In the video, which is just over two minutes long, a sea lion jumps out of the water toward a little girl wearing a white floral dress at about a minute in a half in; she starts giggling. She then sits with her back to the water at a dock; within moments, the sea creature jerks her into the water, her body flailing. Her family pulls her back onto the dock immediately. According to Michael Fujiwara, who shot the video, it did not appear anyone involved the incident was injured.
Earlier, according to reports, the girl and her family had been feeding the majestic whiskered animal bread. It's a move that has led to the parents of the child being criticized for "reckless behaviour" by the port authority in the area.
"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," Robert Kiesman, chair of the Stevenston Harbour Authority, told CBC News.
"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 behaviour."
According to experts, it's possible the girl could have been exposed to serious infection from being pulled into the harbour by the sea lion's mouth.
Bob Baziuk, general manager for Steveston Harbour Authority, says he is looking into getting signs made in multiple languages for the area where the sea lion viral video moment happened to ensure tourists understand the warnings. "For crying out loud," Baziuk told CBC, "use common sense when you're around creatures and the water in general—respect it."
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