[LISTEN] Diver recounts being attacked by a seal along False Bay coast
A frightening incident happened to a diver while swimming out in False Bay on Sunday. Jerome Petersen, who's been diving and swimming in the waters along False Bay for more than thirty years, says he's never encountered such an incident before.
While swimming about 500 metres from the shoreline, Jerome had an encounter with an animal. A large one at that. One with large teeth. One would assume that it's a shark. That's exactly what Jerome thought.
But it wasn't. Jerome had an encounter with an aggressive seal, who bit and gnawed away at him, ripping his fins off his feet, and even tried to rip the speargun out of his hands.
He says he has never before encountered any aggression from a seal over all the decades he has been diving.
I want to first say that I have been diving with Cape Fur Seals for over 30 years and they are not aggressive animals.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
I was waiting for some fish to come past and something just grabbed me on the leg, while I was lying on the reef.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
I have always got in the back of my mind the idea of a shark whenever I enter the water.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
I turned around and I saw it was a seal so I hit it off my leg.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
The seal then attacked his fellow diver Cameron, also an extremely experienced diver.
He works with the NSRI. He is one of the rescue divers. I said to both Cameron and Josh let's get close so we were back-to-back in the water and what happened was the seal came in and grabbed on the end of my speargun and started to try and rip the gun out of my hand.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
I held onto that gun as long as I could and then what the seal did was it wouldn't let go so I hit it until it released it. It then swam around the back of us and grabbed Josh's fin and ripped the fin off his...feet.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
The seal almost singled me out and it went for me and eventually got the gun out of my hand and ripped the fin off my foot and snapped the other fin in half with a bite.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
It grabbed my hand and I had to let the knife go because of the intensity of that bite.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
For the continuous 30 minutes to get back to shore it continuously attacked.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
He says he has never encountered this behaviour from a seal before.
I am an ocean lover.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
I was asked why I did not shoot it? It was faster than I could pull a trigger.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
What it was doing, in my experience, was trying to drown me. I don't know how many times it pulled me down, many times. It had bitten me on my arm...and got me on the leg.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
He has had medical treatment.
I was very lucky because I had a very good wetsuit and I think that saved me.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
At one point I thought this was tickets. This is the end. But I think what saved me is that I am fit.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
He finally managed to get onto rocks and says the seal climbed onto the rocks too and followed him. But eventually, he did escape and swam for his life.
My friends saw that the underbelly of the seal had black and white spots which is why we think maybe it was a Leopard Seal.Jerome Petersen, Diver and spearfisherman
This is only a guess, he says, and they are unable to confirm whether it was a Leopard Seal or not.
Source : Photograph by Clive Maasch