Just when you thought....
July 24, 2003 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Seal kills scientist A British scientist has been killed by a leopard seal whilst snorkelling in Antarctica. I had no idea that a seal could (or would) attack a human. These things can grow to 23ft long! They are known to feed on penguins, but a human is a fair bit bigger than a penguin, so this is one nasty animal, not the doe-eyed creature we coo over in nature programmes...
posted by jontyjago (45 comments total)
 
I say we club its babies for revenge!!
posted by jonson at 6:59 AM on July 24, 2003


Leopard seals do not normally attack humans - they are however, ferocious hunters in the wild.

My guess is that the seal mistook her for something it would normally prey on and this is why diving would not be allowed if they're seen in an area that is being used for a dive.
posted by tomcosgrave at 7:02 AM on July 24, 2003


Jonson, you beat me to it. I'm surprised that snorkeling in Antarctica wouldn't kill you even without the seals.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:04 AM on July 24, 2003


I'm pretty sure that 23 foot-long thing is incorrect. I think they're more like 10 feet long.
posted by Samsonov14 at 7:05 AM on July 24, 2003


I, for one, welcome our new Leopard Seal overlords.
posted by nthdegx at 7:05 AM on July 24, 2003


I'll bet a crow put her up to it.
posted by donpardo at 7:05 AM on July 24, 2003


Maybe it was a Navy SEAL.
posted by jonmc at 7:09 AM on July 24, 2003


Payback time!
posted by soyjoy at 7:12 AM on July 24, 2003


The leopard seal can grow to be up to 35 feet long and weigh more than a schoolbus. They usually disable their prey with a posionous stinger located on at the tip of one of their three horns before attacking with razor-sharp teeth and eyes that shoot lasers. Leopard seals can speak Spanish.

Anyway... Nice fact checking, Guardian.

Leopard Seal:
length:- female 3.6-3.7m; male 3-3.1m
weight:- female up to 370kg; male 325kg.
posted by Samsonov14 at 7:13 AM on July 24, 2003


On a slight tangent, wasn't there a story about a "serial killing" otter on the west coast a couple of years ago? (it was attacking other otters, not humans from what I remember...)
posted by stifford at 7:19 AM on July 24, 2003


Here's what they look like.
posted by jpoulos at 7:27 AM on July 24, 2003


Hey, Samsonov, we don't take kindly to your fancy Metric system over here in Uhmerika.
posted by trharlan at 7:28 AM on July 24, 2003


Payback time? In Antarctica?
posted by magullo at 7:37 AM on July 24, 2003


Here is another picture, another attack and some more information about these seals. Also, something about penguins with a picture) too.
posted by cup at 7:44 AM on July 24, 2003


The favorite food of the leopard seal is the penguin. Typically, the seals will chase or grab penguins in the water and thrash their capture back and forth until the skin peels away, so that the remaining carcass can be eaten.

Deeelicious
posted by loukas_c at 7:44 AM on July 24, 2003


It probably thought she was a pike.
posted by Joeforking at 7:46 AM on July 24, 2003


I'm waiting for the day Shamu or one of fellow orcas decides they're tired of performing for fish and takes out one of those folks lined up for a "kiss".

There's a reason wild animals are called wild.
posted by tommasz at 7:49 AM on July 24, 2003


Attack of the seals! Two years ago it was the sharks, now it's the previously friendly seals. Do humans need to forgo the seas completely? Will the dolphins turn too?
posted by blefr at 7:51 AM on July 24, 2003


Leopard seals? Feh. Everyone knows that the most dangerous animal in Antarctica is the hot-headed naked ice borer.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:52 AM on July 24, 2003


Further Facts - They say it's as big as four cats, and it's got a retractable leg so as it can leap up at you better, and you know what, Ted, it lights up at night, and it's got four ears. Two of them are for listening and the other two are kind of back-up ears, and it's claws are as big as cups and
for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps and Mrs. Doyle was tellin' me that it's got magnets on it's tail, so as if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you, and instead of a mouth it's got four arses.
....And some of his ears are on the inside of his head ,and when he yawns it sounds like Liam Neeson chasing a load of hens around inside a barrel.
....And he doesn't have any eyebrows at all, except on Saturdays
[/Father Dougal]
posted by Joeforking at 7:59 AM on July 24, 2003


<groan>
I wonder if he did it on porpoise?
</groan>
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:18 AM on July 24, 2003


Why shouldn't we be a viable food source? There are lots of us, and we are, for the most part, soft, stupid, and easy prey.
posted by tr33hggr at 8:39 AM on July 24, 2003


I certainly wouldn't make anemone of a Leopard Seal. They're shellfish lovers, you know.
posted by nthdegx at 8:40 AM on July 24, 2003


Nice fact checking, Guardian.

For what it's worth, this article says leopard seals "are known to grow as long as twenty-one feet, but average between twelve and fifteen."
posted by Acetylene at 9:08 AM on July 24, 2003


"Leopard seals can speak Spanish" - Samsanov14, you're wrong on that point. Leopard Seals speak Basque.

This peculiar fact also sheds light on the mysterious origin of the Basque people and culture.
posted by troutfishing at 9:12 AM on July 24, 2003


Stifford - you must be thinking of this:

"17-year-old Erin Vanduzen was floating on an air mattress on Shasta Lake when the attack started. Park officials say one actually climbed on to her back while the others bit her underwater...."She had just been bitten around the arms, the legs, the back of the head and neck. Just puncture wounds was all you could see," said Vinny Villano of Packers Bay Marina. "She was pretty torn up."

In all, Vanduzen suffered more than 30 puncture wounds and had to have more than 40 stitches, as well as rabies shots.

This is the third reported attack by otters on people in recent weeks at Shasta Lake....."
posted by troutfishing at 9:23 AM on July 24, 2003


one actually climbed on to her back

Sounds like randy otters. They are weasels, after all.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:37 AM on July 24, 2003


Press release from BAS, plus a diary of one of her recent dive trips.

I think this is really sad. Imagine being the doctor, trying to save and friend and colleague who's been one of the 20 people you've known in the last year. It's difficult to imagine the effect this would have on such a small and isolated community.


posted by astro38 at 9:43 AM on July 24, 2003


At first I thought it was this Seal.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:44 AM on July 24, 2003


This peculiar fact also sheds light on the mysterious origin of the Basque people and culture

Damn, I'd always been wondering why Basque had 3532875923 words for "Hot seal coochie-mama."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:52 AM on July 24, 2003


I've never trusted the seals. Beady eyes, you know.
posted by Elvis at 9:53 AM on July 24, 2003


I'm waiting for the day Shamu or one of fellow orcas decides they're tired of performing for fish and takes out one of those folks lined up for a "kiss".

I don't know why I found that so funny, but I just started chuckling and couldn't quit.
posted by Plunge at 10:36 AM on July 24, 2003


For what it's worth, this article says leopard seals "are known to grow as long as twenty-one feet, but average between twelve and fifteen."

Acetalyne, it's not worth poo.

Leopard Seal females generally average 290 cm in length and 367 in weight (males, 180 cm and 324 kg), but the largest specimen on record was 358 cm long; that is over 11 feet! (from here, among other places)

They're off by about half. I should know. My neighbors growing up were leopard seals.


posted by Samsonov14 at 10:42 AM on July 24, 2003


it's guerilla warfare. they've had enough of our environmental policies.
posted by whatnot at 12:29 PM on July 24, 2003


I have a friend living at the South Pole right now, and he e-mailed me about this yesterday. Kinda freaky.
posted by Tin Man at 1:25 PM on July 24, 2003


Will the dolphins turn too?

They already have.
posted by G_Ask at 2:35 PM on July 24, 2003


I was threated by a sea lion while snorkelling once, off a seamount where there was a big colony, in the Sea of Cortez near La Paz. Those buggers are fast. It came up like a rocket from about 12 metres deep, underneath me as I was treading water, took a chunk out of one of my flippers, and zoomed off. I think it was a cow, and I might have gotten between it and a young' un.

Scary, but they are quite beautiful when they're in the water. And frolicking with the cubs was a memorable joy. Lesson learned, once again - no matter how much you anthoporphize 'em, wild animals are just that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:40 PM on July 24, 2003


There's a profile of Kirsty Brown (and a small photo) at the University of Adelade Magazine website.
posted by pzarquon at 6:53 PM on July 24, 2003


er, anthropomorphize
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:56 PM on July 24, 2003


anthroporpoise-ise?
posted by whatnot at 8:00 PM on July 24, 2003


You know, when he sang "We're never gonna survive, unless we get a little crazy", I never thought he meant journalisticidically crazy--what? The *animal* kind of Seal? Oh.
posted by arto at 1:00 AM on July 25, 2003


er, scientisticidally. Remember, kids, RTFA first, then make bad joke.
posted by arto at 1:02 AM on July 25, 2003


I had the same thought, arto, but I thought I'd better limit my groan-worthy comments to 2 No.
posted by nthdegx at 2:14 AM on July 25, 2003


Seal kills scientist

Show-off ...
posted by walrus at 2:49 AM on July 25, 2003


Tin Man, I am at the South Pole right now. I am wondering who your friend is? We received word from Rothera a few days ago. Our station manager sent a note of condolence to Rothera and told us this is a reminder that we are just visitors on a fairly hostile continent. Then again we are all just visitors on a fairly hostile planet aren't we?
posted by culberjo at 8:37 PM on July 25, 2003


« Older The Trial And Death Of Socrates--Hi, iconomy!   |   Girls Gone Wild! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments