What do you get when you mix the cuteness of a seal with the fierceness of a leopard? You get this adorable but dangerous predator.
So the next time you go to Antarctica, you’d better watch your feet because this cute little guy could drag you to a cold, underwater grave.
The leopard seal lives primarily in Antarctica, but travels north through the Southern Ocean, sometimes as far as New Zealand, in the autumn and winter. These marine mammals have long, slim bodies with large fore flippers. They have disproportionately large heads, huge jaws and teeth.
“They can grow over 3 m (9.8 ft) in length and weigh over 500 kg (1,102 lb). And they are fast swimmers, reaching up to 38 km/h (24 mph). ” They are the only seals that hunt and kill warm-blooded prey, including other seals.
And their favorite snacks are penguins, which they skin by grabbing with their teeth and shaking violently. Ouch. Has a leopard seal ever killed a human? What are the signs of an imminent attack? And how could you fight one off?
When interacting with humans, leopard seals show more curiosity than aggressiveness. But attacks have happened. So when you’re exploring Antarctica, what should you do to avoid an attack?
Step 1. Stay away from the edge
Leopard seals will typically hide under the water’s surface and wait for the perfect moment to attack.They are fast swimmers and can launch themselves out of the water, land on the surface and grab their prey.And be careful while you’re walking on thin ice. Leopard seals might think you’re a penguin and attack you.
Step 2. Watch their behavior
When we say “watch them”, we mean from afar. You should be at least 20 m (65 ft) away to guarantee your safety. If a leopard seal lifts its head to look at you, it is aware of you. Then, if it becomes a staring contest, it means that the leopard seal is concerned about your approach.
And if it starts opening its mouth or “gaping” directly at you and jerking its head, that is a threat display. It wants you to back off.If it hisses at you, it’s highly agitated. So you should leave immediately.
Step 3. Kick its head
“If one of these mighty seals attacks you, do everything in your power to stay out of the water. Since they are such powerful swimmers, you won’t be able to do much if a leopard seal drags you beneath the surface.
It might grab your leg. So your best bet would be to use your other leg to kick it in the head as hard as you can. Use a rock, stick, bottle or anything you can to pound its head, and hopefully, the leopard seal will back down.
If you’re with your friends, ask them to grab you and pull you away. Even if it hurts your foot, it’s better than being dragged underwater.
Step 4. Don’t dive nearby
If you see a leopard seal in the water, do not start diving. And if you’re diving and see a leopard seal, get out of the water as fast as you can.
In 2003, marine biologist Kirsty Brown was dragged underwater by a leopard seal while snorkeling near the Antarctic Peninsula.The research team quickly used a rescue boat and pulled her from the water. They tried to resuscitate her, but they were unable to save her.
They had been snorkeling there for more than 30 years, so the attack surprised the team.But scientists are worried that increased human traffic in the area will lead to more life-threatening encounters.And if you think leopard seals are bad, imagine a predator that could come out of the water and chase you through the snow.
How fast do you think you’d have to run to escape a polar bear?
- “Leopard Seal“. 2021. Doc.Govt.Nz.
- “NOVA Online | Shackleton’s Voyage Of Endurance | Survival Stories | PBS“. 2021. Pbs.Org.
- “Leopard Seal Kills Scientist In Antarctica”. 2021. Animals.
- “How A Leopard Seal Fed Me Penguins“. 2021. Adventure.
- “Leopard Seal“. 2021. Doc.Govt.Nz.
- “Approaching Leopard Seals – Leopardseals.Org“. 2021. Leopardseals.Org.