Seals are notorious for being ocean puppies that closely resemble dogs, they’re intelligent, playful, and very curious toward humans.
These semiaquatic mammals can be found all around the world, often lounging along coastlines and catching some rays.
Whilst they may seem pretty harmless, seals are equipped with a mouthful of teeth that they use to catch their prey.
This brings us to a question that springs to mind for many people who encounter seals in the wild, do seals attack humans?
If this thought has ever crossed your mind, you’re in the right place!
Do Seals Attack Humans?
For the most part, NO, seals do not attack humans. However, like all wild animals, they may defend themselves if provoked, intimidated, or threatened.
These intelligent pinnipeds are well aware that we’re not food for them, so they’re not out to harm or attack humans.
That said, there have been some rare cases of seals attacking swimmers, particularly when they get too close to their young or the animal is sick/injured.
This is why it’s always important to be vigilant around seals in the wild, especially those that are larger and known for attacking humans.
Whilst most seals are pretty safe to be around, there is one seal species that has even killed a human, the leopard seal.
These seals are only found in Antarctica so no need to go running for the hills just yet, but if you ever come across one of these animals then you should be EXTREMELY cautious.
Do Seals Attack Human Swimmers?
Seals do not typically attack human swimmers or divers. In fact, oftentimes swimmers that come across seals in the wild have a wonderful experience that stays with them for life.
These animals are naturally curious about humans and will swim right up to swimmers to get a closer look.
The few seal attacks that have occurred are typically the result of the seal feeling threatened or provoked in some way.
Seals are wild animals that should be treated with respect, but I can see how attacks may happen if the person panics when a wild seal swims up to them.
If you do happen to encounter a seal whilst swimming, just remember that attacks are extremely rare and that the seal is likely just curious and checking you out.
It’s best to stay calm and avoid any sudden movement, this included flailing your arms around like a great white shark is in front of you.
Give the seal plenty of space so that it doesn’t feel threatened, and if it does swim up to you just slowly swim away whilst facing the animal, don’t turn your back on it.
Chances are you’ll have a wonderful experience that you’ll never forget so long as you don’t panic or do anything rash.
What Happens If A Seal Bites You?
OK, so you panicked…great, and the seal gives you a bite. Now what?
The first thing you need to do is call for medical support immediately, even if the wound seems minor or it was just a nip.
Seal bites can range in severity from scrapes and grazes to deep puncture wounds that may require stitches or surgery.
Depending on the species, seals can have large and sharp teeth that can easily inflict a lot of tissue damage to human flesh.
Additionally, seals can carry a range of bacteria and other pathogens in their mouths which can increase the risk of infection.
If you do end up getting bitten by a seal, you’ll want to clean the wound and apply antiseptic cream and seek medical advice immediately.
Depending on the severity of the injury you may need antibiotics, stitches, or other medical treatment.
Whilst this situation is VERY, and I mean VERY unlikely, these are wild animals that can behave unpredictably at times.
That’s why it’s crucial to exercise caution around all marine life and treat these animals with the respect they deserve.
Do Any Seals Attack Humans?
The seal species that are most likely to attack a human is the leopard seal, but thankfully these are only found in Antarctica. Phew!
These seals are very aggressive and will eat penguins, birds, fish, krill, and even other seals.
Yep, they’re savage like that. They’re big, mean seals that are not afraid of humans by any stretch, and rather than being curious toward people, these animals may very well view us as food.
In fact, these are the only seals known to regularly hunt and kill warm-blooded prey, and although rare, there are a few records of adult leopard seals attacking humans.
In 2003, biologist Kirsty Brown of the British Antarctic Survey was killed by a leopard seal in Antarctica, this was the first recorded fatality from a leopard seal.
The good news is that most seal species that around found in the US, UK, Canada, and other areas of the world are unlikely to want to snack on a human.
Are Seals Very Aggressive Toward Humans?
No, seals are not very aggressive toward humans and are instead shy and curious animals that tend to avoid humans where possible
That said, it’s not unheard of for seals to become aggressive if they feel threatened, provoked, or the human gets too close to their young.
Most interactions between humans and seals in the wild are peaceful, and seals will often just swim away if they feel threatened or in danger.
Just remember that these are wild animals that can behave unpredictably at times, so always keep your distance and be vigilant.
Oh, and if you come across a leopard seal, swim like your life depends on it, because it probably does!
To wrap up, NO, seals don’t attack humans. Whilst there have been some recorded attacks, these are few and far between and are very rare.
They often only happen as a result of the seal feeling threatened or intimidated which is often from the human coming too close for comfort.
The truth is, there’s really no need to be afraid of seals, they’re ocean puppies that are generally very safe to be around so long as they are treated with respect.
If you do find yourself face-to-face with a seal, simply relax, give the animal space, and enjoy the experience.
You’ll be fine!
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I’ll catch you in the next one!
Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years. I’ve spent over a decade in the marine wildlife industry and spent years out in the field conducting research. In today’s modern world, an online blog is the best place for me to share my findings and reach as many people as possible to help educate and inspire others. Enjoy your time here and you’re welcome back anytime!