After capturing a video in which a sea lion snatched a young girl off the dock at Richmond’s Steveston Harbour, Michael Fujiwara uploaded the clip to YouTube so his friends could see it.
They did. But so did everyone else.
“I uploaded it on YouTube first to share with my friends,” Fujiwara said. “I didn’t want to upload a huge file onto Facebook or whatever so I just put it on YouTube. Then I noticed that it was getting a lot of views so I just made it public, and then it just blew up from there.”
The video went viral right away. That same evening, Fujiwara fielded calls from several local outlets as the snatching made the rounds on Twitter. But by the next day, Fujiwara was fielding international calls, as well as requests to feature his video on major news programs and talk shows. It got so big so fast that Stephen Colbert, the reigning king of late night, featured Fujiwara’s video in his opening monologue two days later.
And on Wednesday, Fujiwara, an engineering student at SFU, learned that his sea lion video hadn’t just gone viral — it had gone the most viral. YouTube Canada revealed that “Sea lion drags girl into Steveston waters” was its top trending video of 2017.
The video, which has now been viewed more than 30 million times, beat out Eminem’s anti-Trump freestyle from the BET Awards and a live video of a giraffe at a New York zoo giving birth.
Fujiwara, who said he hadn’t thought about the video in quite some time, learned of his video’s honour when reached for comment by Postmedia.
“It’s actually unbelievable,” he said. “I never expected that.”
Fujiwara said he was glad that the video had such an impact, especially as it taught the public a valuable lesson about respecting local wildlife, and the dangers of sea lions, who may look sweet and cuddly, but can be very dangerous. Shortly after the video landed, signs went up at the harbour urging tourists not to feed the sea lions, warnings that were clearly necessary.
Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the making of this lesson.
“If it had a tragic ending or anything like that it definitely wouldn’t be something that people would wanna see or hear about,” he said.
Asked how he was going to celebrate his big win, Fujiwara said he probably wouldn’t. No popping bottles. No trip to Disneyland.
“I think I’ll tell my family for sure. (But) I don’t think I’m gonna celebrate,” he said. “It’s just a video.”
Here are YouTube Canada’s top five trending videos of 2017:
1. Sea lion drags girl into Steveston waters
2. Eminem Rips Donald Trump in BET Hip Hop Awards Freestyle Cypher
3. Animal Adventure Park Giraffe Cam
4. Ping Pong Trick Shots 3 | Dude Perfect
5. Northern Ontario Moose vs. Wolf
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