Three spearfishermen have survived a near-death encounter after a “relentless” leopard seal left them with “serious bites and puncture wounds.”
As the National Sea Rescue Institute reports, September 26 saw three South African men severely injured by an aggressive leopard seal. Fishing more than 400 yards off the False Shore bay were: Jerome Petersen, 50, from Stellenbosch, Josua Joubert, 40, from Bloubergstrand, and Cameron Vannithing, 24, from Strand.
Thankfully, all three divers would survive to recount their tale to the NSRI. According to their testimony, the seal would brutally target Jerome first. Then, a “fight for their lives” ensued as the seal repeatedly attacked with its maw.
Startling Reports Details Leopard Seal ‘Relentlessly Biting’ 3 Spearfishermen
“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,” the NSRI’s report begins. This same seal would continue “relentlessly biting and bumping at the 3 spearfishermen while they desperately tried to get back to shore.”
Tearing through their gear, the seal would puncture each diver’s muscle, causing “serious” bite wounds. “Puncture wounds and soft tissue injuries” would also occur alongside “scrapes and bruising.”
The leopard seal also managed to snap and break off each diver’s flippers. The marine mammal disarmed their spearguns, as well.
In full, the harrowing report details an almost hour-long fight before the three men could reach shore. Each, as they report, remains “exhausted and bewildered” by the encounter.
Their struggle was so great that the public on the shore would spot the commotion and raise an alarm. NSRI and Cape Medical Response (CMR) would respond quickly as a result.
“On arrival on 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,” NSRI states in their full statement.
‘5 millimeter wetsuit Jerome was wearing protected him from fatal injuries’
As NSRI cites, Jerome and Josua are both Brazilian Jiujitsu instructions in Somerset West. Cameron is a City of Cape Town Municipal lifeguard and a rescue swimmer with the EMS/AMS. Moreover, all are veteran spear fishermen.
Each diver attributes their “survival from this incident to their years of experience with the sea and their high fitness levels.”
In addition, the “state of the art equipment that they had with them” would also aid in survival. NSRI states that the 5 millimeter wetsuit Jerome was wearing protected him from fatal injuries.
These attributes to survival, however, also raise red flags for the ill-prepared public. As a result, City of Cape Town officials will continue to monitor the area closely for leopard seal activity.
At this time, officials have no inkling as to what caused the seal’s hyper-aggression towards the divers. Yet the species should be considered dangerous in general. These large, efficient marine predators possess razor-sharp teeth similar to canines and a powerful bite.
The public should give all marine life space and respect at all times.