Thursday, September 3, 2009

Not Just Another Pretty Face...

A harbour seal leapt from the water and dragged a five-year-old girl off a dock at a marina in West Vancouver on Tuesday, according to the child's father. Mike Cunning said he was cleaning fish at the Thunderbird Marina on Marine Drive, just east of Horseshoe Bay, when he heard a splash. (CBC News)

"And I looked over and my daughter had disappeared, and I thought, well, Caleigh has fallen into the water. She has her life jacket on, so she'll just pop back up to the surface," Cunning said. But it was few seconds before his daughter surfaced about two metres from where she fell in.

"When she popped to the surface, she said, 'Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, the seal!' and I said, 'What?'" he said.

A neighbour on a nearby boat then told Cunning a seal had jumped out of the water and pulled Caleigh from the dock.

"This thing must have taken a running start to be able to launch itself four feet out of the water, grab a 50-pound five-year-old and then drag her underneath the water with a life-jacket on," Cunning said.

He initially thought his daughter's hand was broken because it was badly swollen and bleeding with four large puncture wounds at the base of her wrist. The little girl was traumatized and taken to the hospital to be treated for the puncture wounds, but is otherwise OK, Cunning said. Caleigh had been feeding the seals at the fish cleaning station earlier in the day, and Cunning said that's why he suspects it attacked his daughter.

After the incident, she told her father she thought it was very rude of the seal not to ask if she wanted to go for a swim, and she doesn't want to feed the seal or be its friend anymore. Cunning said he has heard of seals attacking small dogs on leashes and dragging them into the water to eat them, but never attacking a child.

"Thank God she had the life-jacket on. I can't imagine what would have happened," he said.

Harbour seals can reach up to 1.8 metres in length and 130 kilograms, and are considered curious and intelligent. Their normal diet is mostly fish and shellfish. ...

... and little girls.

26 comments:

Nancy said...

I have never heard of such a thing!! But I guess the Sea Worlds of the earth are full of seals doing tricks like jumping out of the water for fish. This guy was really hungry! I'm so glad the little girl is okay. What a weird experience.

The Bug said...

Ooh - I got chills reading your last line. It sounded so Vincent Price-ish - shivers!

Nicole said...

Wow!

Sunny said...

I'm not familar with the story but it sounds almost like the little girl was feeding the seal and it may have grabbed her hand by mistake. Well I'm not defending the seal but there's two side to every story and the seal isn't talking!
Hope the little girl will be okay.
Sunny :)

TheChicGeek said...

Wow, such a sweet face...who knew? I've never heard of that before although it does not surprise me. Animals in the wild can be very aggressive when hungry!
Thank goodness she's okay.

PhilipH said...

That could easily have been a real tragedy. I've never heard of such a thing happening before and it is such a blessing that this lovely young girl escaped with relatively minor injuries. Interesting tale, with a happy ever after ending.

Alissa said...

Glad this one had a happy ending. Not too many seals here in NJ, but we do have plenty of seagulls, especially near the shore, and I have seen what can happen when someone decides to start feeding the already well-fed birds. They've been known to swoop down and grab hot dogs out of people's hands.

leilani said...

IT is ULTRA important that we understand as humans that NO MATTER HOW CUTE no matter HOW wondeful we CANNOT feed or touch or PET ANY wild animal!! Right now in the Bahamas there is a dolphin tour where the people are TOUCHING wild dolphins! THIS IS AN ACCIDENT waiting to HAPPEN!! Yah wouldnt pet a polar bear so WHY WHY WHY are we petting and feeding OTHER wild animals!? IT is always the ANIMAL who pays for OUR stupidity!

pranksygang said...

Wow!!
That girl is pretty lucky!!

Hilary said...

My take is that the critter just liked the child and wanted to show that he approved of the food she was giving him.....

... yes, that would make it The Seal of Approval. ;)

Butler and Bagman said...

That was a pretty scary post. I don't think I'll ever look at those adorable creatures quite the same way.

B said...

Eek!

That's an incredible story!

What a cutie for calling the seal "rude"!!!

Jo said...

Nancy, that seal was not only hungry, he was smart! *heh*

The Bug, I know! Gosh, a person is not safe anywhere, hey?

Nicole, yes! :-)

Sunny, yes I think the seal is used to humans feeding him. Cheeky little b*gger. :-)

TheChicGeek, apparently those seals take the fish away from fishermen. *heh*

Philip, it's a good thing her father rescued her right away. That seal sounds more like a shark. :-)

Alissa, I have seen the seagulls do that here too. In fact, Granville Island Food Market has signs "Beware of Seagulls". :-)

Leilani, oh, yes I agree with you 100%. The animals are just doing what comes naturally to them, particularly cougars and bears in this region as well...!

Pranksygang, she will have a story to tell for the rest of her life. *heh*

Hilary, ...groan. *heh*

Butler and Bagman, I think I will give seals wide berth from now on too. Who knew!

B, I know! Isn't the little girl adorable? Another little girl here was attacked by a cougar, and she called him a "bad kitty". :-)

lovelyprism said...

I love the part where she says he was very rude for not asking if she wanted to go for a swim and she doesn't want to be his friend anymore. That's precious.

tinkerbell the bipolar faery said...

I am with leilani. There is a reason we've always been told NOT TO FEED THE WILD ANIMALS! They are wild. They are not our little pets or mascots. Even at the Aquarium, we are told TO KEEP OUR HANDS FROM REACHING BEYOND THE RAILING BECAUSE THE SEALS WOULD BITE!

Why was the father so stupid to let his little girl feed the seal fishguts? And, why did he turn his back on his dtr?

"And I looked over and my daughter had disappeared, and I thought, well, Caleigh has fallen into the water. She has her life jacket on, so she'll just pop back up to the surface,"

How, how how could a parent be such a moron!

Grrrrrr ~ this one really pissed me off!

Jo said...

LovelyPrism, I know, she was such a cute little girl, and that just shows the innocence of children, doesn't it?

Tinkerbell, I totally, totally agree! What was he thinking? And does he know that about three years ago a shark was caught off a dock in North Vancouver? Sharks love fish guts -- and little girls. Stupid!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Life jacket or not, I don't think he should be left in charge of his child again! Wonder what Mom had to say about the event?

Jo said...

Kathy, I know...! How stupid is that to leave a child around water, without watching her every second. Goodness!

Avril Fleur said...

Good Lord! I have never heard of such a thing. I had no ideas seals were so agressive. How rude!

robert said...

This interesting post of you will surely make me watchfull when we go to the sea next time - who knows what the Mediterranian Sea hids...what a story...

Shaista said...

So glad the little girl is alright, despite being cross with the seal for making up its own rules about swimming :)

Dina said...

Hi Jo:
I just wanted to see if my comment would go through, since I'm on Typepad and not Blogger. Thanks for the bear video you left on my blog. And now this.... Seals, for goodness sakes!

Jo said...

Avril *heh* that's what the little girl said, too. "How rude".

Robert, oh, goodness, if I lived in the Mediterranean sea, I would be swimming with the dolphins. :-)

Shaista, she was interviewed on TV tonight, and she was quite cross with the seal. :-)

Dina, Yay! You were able to post a comment. Good. I fixed the settings.

Anonymous said...

A.M.

Thank God she was wearing her life jacket. If she weren't... I think it would of been a different story. To close.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I am shocked! I hadn't seen this story, and I'm so glad it ended well for both child and seal.

Paula Slade said...

Oh my gosh that's a scary scenario! I guess the seal must have been one that the child had fed earlier in the day. As you said Jo, thank goodness for the life jacket!