Friday 21 August 2020

Tourist requires hospital treatment after being bitten by Grey Seal on Devon beach.

A tourist has been treated at Torbay Hospital after being bitten by a Seal on a Babbacombe Beach. Mark Tarpey, from Lancashire, encountered the Grey Seal, Halichoerus grypus, known locally as 'Sammy' who locals report is habituated to Humans, while walking on the beach, and was able to pose with her for a photograph. He then tried to touch the Animal, and was bitten on the hand, resulting in a trip to the hospital's accident and emergency department. Local charity Seal Watch, which monitors Seals in the Babbacombe and Brixham area, report that Sammy is one of several Seals in the area that have become habituated to Human behaviour, and do not respond to being approached by retreating. They advise against to close a contact with these animals however, as they are still wild and may respond aggressively if they feel they are being encroached upon to much.

Tourist Mark Tarpey approaching a Grey Seal known as 'Sammy' (who apparently does not like to be petted on a Babbacombe Beach in the Torbay area of Devon, England. Joanne Tarpey/Devon Live.

Grey Seals are found on both sites of the North Atlantic, with large breeding colonies at several sites around the UK and Ireland. They were heavily hunted in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which caused their populations to drop significantly, but have recovered well since the practice was banned in most areas, and are now considered to be of Least Concern under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. In the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) they are protected by the Conservation of Seals Act 1970, and while there are occasional calls for their numbers to be reduced by commercial fishermen, they are generally popular Animals, with their status as one of the few large Mammals that can be seen in the wild adding to their natural charisma.

Seals are Carnivorans, related to Mustelids (Weasels and Badgers, etc.), Bears, and Canids, and often have faces which appear Dog-like. This can on occasion prove deceptive to Humans who are familiar with Dogs, as Seals to not express displeasure in the same ways, tending to bite without giving the warning of snarling or barking, which can mislead people into thinking they are friendlier than they actually are.

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