Did a seal attack a triathlete off Malibu? Video captures encounter

A 22-year-old Portuguese triathlete training for an upcoming race off Malibu this week was bitten by an animal believed to be a seal, race organizers said.

Athlete Vasco Vilaca was not seriously injured in Friday’s encounter off Zuma Beach, according to a post from Super League Triathlon.

According to the triathlon, the incident happened in the late morning on Thursday.

“So the wounds aren’t too bad,” Vilaca said in a video posted by race organizers. “It bit my arm. Luckily I had the wetsuit and it protected me pretty well, only one of the teeth actually poked through the wetsuit.”

Vilaca said he also cut his hand when he grabbed the animal by the mouth to try to pull free after it wouldn’t let go.

At first, he said, he noticed the animal moving toward him, but wasn’t sure what to do.

“It kind of felt like a dog was smelling me, and I was just trying to do it slowly without doing anything aggressive like slowly pushing it away,” Vilaca said.

At one point, a wave pushed the animal against him, Vilaca said, so he pushed the animal away more aggressively, which he says startled the creature and caused it to bite.

“You don’t think about dying,” Vilaca said. “I thought more about survival. When it bit me, I was more like…how do I get out of this situation?”

Vilaca was able to move away and return to the beach without further serious incident.

According to race organizers, he is scheduled to compete in the Super League Triathlon Malibu on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Zuma Beach.

Although the animal is believed to be a seal, the exact species could not be verified.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-17/seal-attack-triathlete-off-malibu-video Did a seal attack a triathlete off Malibu? Video captures encounter

Emma Bowman

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