Seals & Safety: Are Seals Dangerous To Humans?

are seals dangerous to humans

Seals can be found in many of the world’s oceans, from the coastal waters of the North Atlantic to the coldest Arctic and Antarctic waters.

They are carnivorous and have a varied diet of fish, shrimp, octopus, squid, and more. Seals are opportunistic feeders that will take what they can get when it comes to food.

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the interactions seals have with humans, and answer are seals dangerous to humans?

In general, seals are not dangerous to humans. They are about as intelligent as dogs and are aware that we are not food, however, they will defend themselves if provoked or threatened.

Are Seals Aggressive To Humans?

Like all wild animals, seals need to be treated with respect and space. They measure usually between 10 – 20 feet long and have a mouth full of sharp teeth that they use to eat prey.

Seals are not particularly aggressive towards humans, but they are also not friendly either. They enjoy their personal space and can be quite territorial at times.

For the most part, seals are not aggressive and will not attack humans on purpose or out of nowhere. Although there have been some attacks on humans, it is extremely rare.

A seal’s bite although painful is not fatal for humans, they do not contain venom or poison and usually only bites as a warning.

However, seals can carry and transmit infections, the infamous ‘seal finger’ is a common one that can be a common side effect of a seal bite.

Seal bites can be painful and often require medical attention immediately, the chances of being bitten are slim, but it’s important to check for infection if bitten as it may require anti-biotics.

Has A Seal Ever Killed A Human?

It’s incredibly rare for a seal to attack a human, but it sadly does happen. A bite from a seal is usually an act of self-defense.

Some species such as the Leopard seal are particularly large and aggressive seals, this species is known to attack and even kill.

One fatality from a Leopard seal was recorded when a researcher was snorkeling in Antarctic waters and was tragically killed by a Leopard seal.

These are the only seals that are known to actively hunt and kill other warm-blooded mammals, including other seals.

Leopard seals are solitary and hunt solo, they are known to be aggressive toward other seals and are rarely seen in groups of two or more.

These notorious predators have long, sharp teeth that are more than capable of tearing through flesh and causing serious harm to humans.

If you do happen to encounter a Leopard seal in the wild, ensure you keep your distance and stay safe.

Is It Safe To Swim With Seals?

For the most part, swimming with seals is not something that is advised, especially with wild seals. It is risky to swim over to seals as they can be territorial and have the tools needed to bite a human.

However, seals are naturally curious animals, and as mentioned earlier are rather intelligent. They are well aware that we are not on their menu.

If you do encounter seals in the wild, always let them make the first move. Let them approach you and ensure relax and let them take control.

Don’t make any sudden moves and stay calm, you don’t want to spook the seals which could trigger them to bite or react.

The good news is that seals are generally gentle creatures, and although they may swim up to you if you behave appropriately the chances of being bitten or attacked are very slim.

Some seals will swim right up to humans, and even jump on their kayaks or boats to escape predators.

These animals are known to carry infections, and therefore if bitten could cause real issues, so it’s best to avoid getting too close to seals when swimming.

Do Seals Attack Humans In The Water?

Although attacks from seals are rare, they are certainly not unheard of. Some species of seals can be particularly aggressive and territorial, which is why you always need to be cautious around these animals.

They are intelligent but are predators that will defend themselves if they feel threatened or provoked.

British marine biologist Kirsty Brown, 28, was snorkeling off the Atlantic Peninsula in 2003 when a Leopard seal grabbed her and dragged her to her death in the icy waters.

There was another instance in 1985 when a Leopard seal attacked an Antarctic explorer named David Wood’s leg and tried to drag him off the pack ice he was standing on into the water.

This seal only retreated after being repeatedly kicked in the head by David, and if he has not reacted swiftly it would likely have killed him.

Leopard seals can grow as large as 3.6m in length and weigh up to 350kg, attacks from these animals are nothing new.

Final Thoughts

So, are seals dangerous to humans? For the most part, no. However, there are some species of seal that you need to be aware of and take caution around as they can be very dangerous.

Leopard seals are some of the largest and most aggressive species of seal, they are carnivores that even eat other seals.

Whilst most species of seal are not dangerous, it’s not advised to swim with them in the wild, and if you do find yourself in the water with a wild seal, let them make the first moves and ensure not to startle them.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you’ve learned something new today about seals.

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