Following an incident in Vancouver last weekend in which a girl was pulled into the water by a sea lion, concerns have arisen about the possibility of the girl contracting a bacterial infection. The infection could have infiltrated her system through a cut on her finger.
Although the girl is reportedly in good condition, her unidentified family heard about “seal finger” during media coverage of the incident, which was captured in a video that went viral.
Vancouver Aquarium spokeswoman Deana Lancaster said the family reached out to them, asking for guidance. “The family saw the media reports and got in touch with us,” Lancaster said. “She did get a superficial wound, and she’s going to get the right treatment.”
Sea mammals have a Mycoplasma bacteria in their mouths. Exposure through a wound can cause an infection known as seal finger. The infection could be severe, potentially leading to the loss of fingers or limbs, however it can be treated with antibiotics.
Lancaster said that members of the aquariums’ animal care team seek help if bitten by a sea mammal. “They take a letter from our vet with them to the hospital, which explains that the infection is resistant to some antibiotics,” she said.
The incident was captured by a college student, Michael Fujiwara, who was recording with his cell phone. He said that the girl and her family may have been feeding the animal prior to it grabbing the girl.
University of British Columbia marine mammal expert Andrew Trites said it was risky for the family to be so close. “This was a male California sea lion,” Trites said. “They are not circus performers. They’re not trained to be next to people.”
After the sea lion grabbed the girl, a family member dove in and pulled her to safety. Reportedly, the girl has or will be receiving treatment.
The video of the incident can be seen below.
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