NORWALK, Conn. — A viral video shows a sea lion grabbing a young girl off a dock in Canada. But the experts at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk say the entire scary incident could have been avoided.
"No one should be feeding sea lions — or any wild animal — like those folks were. And no one should get that close to such a large animal; especially their child; especially turning their back to it," said Dave Sigworth, publicist at the Maritime Aquarium.
"If it was a lion or a bear, would they have let their child sit that close with her back to it?"
And it's not just "common sense," said Sigworth, it's the law.
"Seals and sea lions (and dolphins and whales — all marine mammals) are federally protected animals that we are to keep our distance from, for their protection and ours," he said.
There are no sea lions along coastal Connecticut (nor in the Maritime Aquarium), but there are harbor seals.
"If you’re standing on the dock at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk and a seal pops its head up out of the water below you, regulations don’t mean you need to get off the dock," he said. That's because the seal approached where you were.
"But you need to act with common sense and not try to interact with it."
The viral video, shot by college student Michael Fujiwara in, had over 21 million views as of Tuesday evening. It happened Saturday at the Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf in Richmond, British Columbia. A sea lion that was being fed from the pier suddenly leaped up and pulled a young girl into the water, and a man jumped in after her. No injuries were reported.
There are rules regarding humpback whales, which have appeared in Long Island Sound the last two summers. Click here for more information on whale-watching guidelines.