Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Tourist rushed to A&E after being bitten while trying to pat ‘friendly’ seal

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A tourist had to be rushed to hospital after being bitten by a seal they were trying to pat on the head.

Mark and Joanne Tarpey had travelled to Devon to meet the "friendly" female grey seal known locally as "Sammy".

She has become a celebrity in the area and is regularly spotted by fishermen and holidaymakers.

The two had just arrived at the luxury Cary Arms hotel at Babbacombe in Torquay when they saw the seal on the pier.

They rushed out to take a picture, but foolishly, Mark put his hand too close and Sammy responded by biting it.

The steps were left covered in blood, and the couple were rushed to Torbay Hospital's A&E department where Mark's nasty wounds were treated.

Afterwards, the couple returned home to Lancashire, but have now warned of the dangers of approaching Sammy.

The Seal Project conservation charity which monitors seals at Brixham and Babbacombe told DevonLive: "Unfortunately Sammy has been habituated by human interaction over a sustained period and her natural behaviours have been changed for life."

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Cary Arms assistant operations manager Jack Howell said: "There are a couple of seals that come around every day.

"This is the first time I've ever heard of anybody being bitten.

"Obviously seals are wild animals and we would always advise people not to approach them."

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Joanne shared pictures of the nasty wounds to Mark's hand, and also took a photograph of the seal looking guilty moments after the attack.

"This was him just after he'd covered the steps in blood," she said.

"We've just stayed at the Cary Arms. After checking in we walked along the beach and then went to see if we could see the infamous 'Sammy the seal'.

"Mark had his picture taken on the steps and then foolishly with him being so close tried to stroke him.

"Sammy immediately went for Mark's hand, we immediately went to A&E.

"We have now sadly had to abort our holiday and return to Lancashire."

  • Animals

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