WATCH: This is why you should never turn your back on a sea lion, as girl dragged into bay

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Cape Town - A seemingly calm sea lion unexpectedly jumps out of the water and drags in a little girl, in a video posted on YouTube on Saturday 20 May.

The video, which has gone viral with more than 7.5 million views, shows the sea lion near the Steveston Fisherman's Wharf in Canada as people throw food to the animal.

After leaning over the edge of the wharf to get a closer look at the sea lion, the girl sits down facing away from the animal which jumps up, grabs the back of her dress and pulls her into the water as onlookers scream with shock.

A man quickly jumps into the water to rescue her and people reach out to help, as Michael Fujiwara captures the frightening footage.

Andrew Trites, director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia, says that the sea lion looks like it was used to having people feed it. “It would appear that the sea lion sees part of her dress and thinks it’s food,” he says.

Trites says that while sea lions are not considered dangerous, you should “keep your distance”, as they are wild animals.

After this shocking incident we advise travellers to take caution when in close proximity to our very own Western Cape sea lions - popular spots of note being the ones that often sun themselves in Kalk Bay or Hout Bay Harbour  -  as the video shows, these lethargic-looking animals prove to move with unexpected speed! So don't take any chances. 

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