Seal takes a bite out of Surfer

IT’S a scene which plays out in every surfer’s worst nightmares.

At about noon last Wednesday, Daniel Falconbridge, 24, of Jannali, sat on his surfboard waiting for a wave at Garie Beach when he noticed a three-metre long dark shape swimming underneath him.

Seconds later with blood streaming from his leg he was screaming ‘‘shark, shark’’ while feverishly paddling for shore.

But he didn’t get far before the monster came back and took a second bite out of him.

‘‘He got the same spot nearly,’’ Mr Falconbridge remarked. ‘‘Then I saw a head poke up from the sea, and I saw it was a seal!’’

It wasn’t just any seal either, but one well-known to those who frequent the area. He even has a name: Cecil.

‘‘Everybody knows him,’’ Mr Falconbridge said. ‘‘I’d never seen him before, but he’s common down there.’’Real scare: Daniel Falconbridge, of Jannali, required 15 stitches after being attacked by a seal while surfing at Garie Beach. Picture: Chris lane

Left with three significant wounds to his leg which required 15 stitches, Mr Falconbridge is understandably not lining up to become Cecil’s newest fan.

‘‘He was a big fat thing; he wasn’t sleek and cute, let’s put it that way.’’

He said neither the lifeguards nor the doctors who treated him at hospital had heard of a seal inflicting such injuries.

Sydney Aquarium’s curatorial manager Sebastian Schmid said while seals could be aggressive if approached on land, they usually steered clear of humans when in the sea.

‘‘The term ‘attack’ is not commonly associated with seals,’’ Mr Schmid said. ‘‘I’ve never heard of an unprovoked attack in water.’’

He said the only explanation he could think of was that the seal was curious about Mr Falconbridge.

‘‘Sometimes the Australian sea lions can be inquisitive,’’ he said.

‘‘They don’t have hands so they prod with their mouths.’’

As for Mr Falconbridge, he is hoping to be back out surfing after his injuries heal in about three weeks.

No doubt he will be keeping an eye peeled for Cecil.

Article BY KATE CARR

THE LEADER