On the video, the sea lion rises up out of the water a first time before grabbing the girl.
A heart-stopping video of a sea lion pulling a young girl into the water at a Vancouver-area wharf is a good reminder of why people should never feed wild animals, says the harbour authority's manager.
Footage of the Saturday encounter shows a sea lion eating bread that a family was tossing into the water. A man immediately jumped in to rescue her, and they both made swift exits from the water.
"It likely became frustrated because the family was feeding it, and the feeding stopped", she said.
The now-viral video was filmed on Canada's western coast after the animal had swum close to the dock after being fed.
Bob Beziuk, a general manager of the harbor, told PEOPLE that sea lions will engage with visitors if they are fed - but they're still unsafe wild animals. They are not circus performers.
He said feeding a sea lion is analogous to approaching a bear with food. Certainly when animals are habituated to being around people, and the sea lion looked like he had no fear, the best thing for animals is not to trust their intentions are good. "They have teeth, they can bite and even unintentionally you can get bitten so you want to keep your distance from them", says Andrew Trites, a Marine Mammal Researcher.
"It's not Sea World, it's a place where you buy fish", Baziuk said, according to CNN.
Trites hopes the video of the encounter teaches others to not feed wild animals like sea lions.