Harbour seal climbs onto kayak, attacks paddler near Chatham Island

Harbour seal climbs onto kayak, attacks paddler near Chatham Island

WATCH: A group of kayakers are warning others on the water after a recent excursion turned into a scary encounter with a harbour seal. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

It started out as a regular Thursday kayak trip for Alan Campbell and Debbie Leach.

On Aug. 10, Campbell and Leach along with two other kayakers left from Telegraph Cove and headed towards Chatham and Discovery Islands.

“We were grouping up when the attack occurred” explained Campbell.

The excursion turned into a frightening experience when Leach noticed a large harbour seal charging at their kayaks.

“I didn’t really think anything of it at first,” said Leach.

“Usually the seals are shy and just swim away, but then it grabbed my rudder and pulled my foot pedal right out of the socket.”

The seal tried to mount two of the kayaks without much success until it reached Campbell.

“I felt this thing hit the back of my deck,” explained Campbell. “It came at me with its mouth wide open.”

The animal managed to climb abroad by propping itself onto the back of his kayak with both flippers.

“I took a paddle stroke and I guess I clipped him,” said Campbell. “[Its tooth] went right through the paddle and punctured it.”

Campbell says the seal then lunged towards him, ripping his wet suit with his teeth and scratching his shoulder.

Within seconds, the seal jumps off the boat and swims away.

The attack has left the seasoned kayakers, who have paddled in the area for decades, baffled by the seemingly random incident.

“We didn’t see any seal families on the rocks where we were,” explained Leach. “It just seemed like a rogue seal attack.”

Campbell has been prescribed antibiotics for the wound.

Both are thankful the situation wasn’t much worse.

“I don’t know what would have happened if any of us had been pulled into the water,” said Leach. “This seal was angry.”



Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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