The NSRI are appealing to spear-fishermen, divers, paddlers, bathers and surfers to be cautious around seals and in particular around Leopard seals.
On Sunday September 26, three spear-fishermen; Jerome Petersen, 50, from Stellenbosch, Josua Joubert, 40, from Bloubergstrand and Cameron Vannithing, 24, from Strand, encountered an aggressive, believed to be, Leopard seal, while spearfishing in False Bay.
They have recounted to NSRI the harrowing ordeal that they faced from the seal that appeared to target Jerome and the fight for their lives that they endured.
About 400 meters off-shore, between Spaniard Rock and Caravan Reef, near to Millers Point, having reached a reef to begin spearfishing, Jerome dived to the sea bed when he was bitten on the leg by a seal that continued relentlessly biting and bumping at the three fishermen while they desperately tried to get back to shore.
The seal snapped and broke off their flippers, disarmed them of their spearguns and caused serious bites, puncture wounds and soft tissue injuries, scrapes and bruising.
They fought for over half an hour before finally reaching the shore exhausted and bewildered by what had transpired.
Public members on the shore, seeing the commotion, raised the alarm and NSRI Simon’s Town and CMR (Cape Medical Response) responded.
On arrival at the scene they were fortunately out the water and out of danger. They were treated by CMR paramedics for injuries and NSRI recovered some of their equipment which was still floating out at sea.
Jerome and Josua are both Brazilian Jijitsu instructions in Somerset West and Cameron is a City of Cape Town Municipal lifeguard and a rescue swimmer with the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter. All are veteran spear-fishermen.
They attribute their survival from this incident to their years of experience with the sea and their high fitness levels and state of the art equipment that they had with them. A five-millimetre wetsuit arguably saved Jerome from fatal injuries.
It remains unknown what caused the aggressive encounter but marine scientists have warned that Leopard seals are known to be dangerous. Marine authorities appeal to the public to be cautious around sea animals in general.
City of Cape Town authorities will monitor the situation in that area following this incident.