Beware of leopard seals along the False Bay coastline – is a warning to bathers, hikers, fishermen and surfers – from the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).
While leopard seals are not endemic to South Africa, they are known to make their way to our shorelines to moult. Over the past few years there have been several spotted in Hout Bay, Noordhoek and now near Millers Point.
NSRI put out a warning after three spear fishermen were bitten and attacked by what appears to be an aggressive leopard seal in False Bay on Sunday.
According to the rescue organisation, Jerome Petersen (50) from Stellenbosch, Josua Joubert (40) from Bloubergstrand and Cameron Vannithing (24) from Strand, were lucky to get away with their lives in what they described as a ‘harrowing ordeal’.
“About 400 meters off-shore, between Spaniard Rock and Caravan Reef, near to Millers Point, having reached a reef to begin spearfishing, Jerome dived to the sea bed when he was bitten on the leg by a seal that continued relentlessly biting and bumping at the 3 spear fishermen while they desperately tried to get back to shore.
“The seal snapped and broke off their flippers, disarmed them of their spearguns and caused serious bites, puncture wounds and soft tissue injuries, scrapes and bruising. They fought for over half an hour before finally reaching the shore exhausted and bewildered by what had transpired,” explained NSRI.
People along the shore contacted NSRI Simon’s Town and CMR (Cape Medical Response) who responded immediately but luckily the men were already out of harm’s way.
The fishermen have extensive experience out at sea and thanks to their high fitness level and a five-millimetre wetsuits, they managed to make it out of the water alive.
NSRI said that It remains unknown what caused the aggressive encounter but marine scientists have warned that leopard seals are known to be dangerous.