WATCH: BC Parks issued a warning of an aggressive harbour seal after an attack on a group of four sea kayakers. It happened in the Canoe Islets, part of the Broughton Archipelago on July 9. As Mary Griffin reports, the kayakers involved say the attack came out of nowhere.
Warning: This story contains an image and video that may be disturbing to some readers.
BC Parks is warning people about an aggressive harbour seal after they received a report an attack in the Broughton Archipelago.
The warning was issued on Wednesday after a harbour seal reportedly attacked a group of four sea kayakers in the vicinity of Canoe Islets, to the west of Cedar Island.
“Though harbour seal attacks do occur, this is not seen as typical behaviour but does happen from time to time,” the BC Parks notice said.
One of the kayakers, Jan Whitehead, wrote about the attack on Facebook on July 15.
According to Whitehead, she and three other kayakers were paddling out of a passage through the Canoe Islets when a seal jumped onto a man’s kayak.
“It grabbed him under the armpit and bit into him trying to pull him out of his kayak, he fended him off but the seal was on his kayak and capsized it,” Whitehead wrote.
She said the kayaker was able to fend off the seal but then the animal capsized the kayak. The man then kicked the seal and it seemed to leave.
But Whitehead said the seal then lunged at another kayaker, biting her on the arm and hand. She was able to hit the seal with her paddle and fend it off.
Then one of the kayakers was trying a self-rescue using a leg hook and deck cords, the seal leapt out of the water and bit Whitehead on the lower arm, injuring both sides of her arm.
The seal left and the four were able to meet with a commercial group of kayakers who provided a first-aid kit. Whitehead and the other three kayakers then went to their campsite at Owl Island to assess their injuries.
“Without the drysuits as protection the bites would have been much worse,” she wrote.
After camping overnight, the kayakers went to Telegraph Cove and reported the seal. Whitehead said she had to go to the hospital in Port McNeill where they dressed her wound.
Whitehead wrote that she doesn’t know the reason for the attack.
“A note is that there was nothing we could do to defend ourselves as the seal came so quickly we didn’t see it coming any of the times. We see thousands of seals in our waters which appear harmless. Victoria has put a ban on feeding seals which is a good idea seeing as they are wildlife and unpredictable,” Whitehead wrote.
A Seal attacked us in our kayaks in the Broughton Group, North IslandThree of us were bitten as we were just kayaking…
Posted by Jan Whitehead on Sunday, July 15, 2018
BC Parks said all visitors to the Broughton Archipelago area should be aware of the attack and larger group sizes may be an advantage.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) recommends moving away slowly at the first sign of disturbance or agitation in a marine animal. If the animal starts to stare, fidget or dive into the water, DFO said that means the person is too close.
For emergencies involving marine animals, call DFO at 1-800-465-4336.