'Incredibly aggressive' seal attacks surfer

A surfer has undergone surgery after being attacked by a seal, which also knocked another man off his surfboard.

Nathan Shepherd, 45, was injured in the surprising encounter at Shelly Beach at Manly in Sydney on Sunday afternoon.

He was taken to hospital and underwent surgery for a deep wound to his arm.

He said the wound was “like a tooth mark”.

“It’s deep,” told the Manly Daily newspaper.

“It was a freak occurrence,” he added.

Mr Shepherd told how he got close to the animal and wrongly assumed it was friendly.

“I thought it was amazing to be out with a seal,” he told the paper.

“It was swimming closer to me. It swam quite fast – it jumped out of the water and bit me on the upper arm.

“I tried to bring the surfboard down on top of it, and then put the surfboard between me and the seal, and then I got back on the board and paddled to shore.” 

A surfer with a seal that is believed to have attacked one man and knocked another off his board.  Pic: Manly Daily
Image Caption:
Experts have warned the public not to get close to seals. Pic: Manly Daily

Around an hour earlier the same seal is believed to have knocked a surfer off his board.

Tom Wallington, 26, told the paper how he was targeted while on his board with “some pretty big force”.

The seal also left several bite marks on his and another surfer’s boards.

Lifeguard Victoria O’Halloran said she had “never seen anything like it”.

Despite her attempts to steer people away from the seal – because of its “incredibly aggressive” nature – beachgoers continued to surround it to take photos once it came ashore. 

Experts have warned the public not to get too close to seals.

Wildlife rescue group ORRCA, which was called to the beach to contain the situation, reminded visitors that seals are wild animals with “very, very, very sharp teeth” who would defend themselves if threatened or provoked.

Under New South Wales state law, people should not be closer than 40m to an adult seal when it is on land and no closer than 10m in the water.

The attack comes a day after a shark crashed into a surfer’s board near the tourist spot Byron Bay, about 500 miles north of Sydney.

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