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.
The athlete, Vasco Vilaca, was not seriously injured during the encounter off Zuma Beach, according to a post published Friday by Super League Triathlon.
The incident happened late Thursday morning, according to the triathlon.
“So the injuries aren’t too serious,” Vilaca said in a video released by race organizers. “It bit my arm. Luckily I had the suit and it protected me quite well, just one of the prongs that pierced the suit.
Vilaca said he also cut his hand grabbing the animal’s mouth to try and wriggle free after it wouldn’t let go.
At first, he says, he noticed the animal heading towards him but didn’t know what to do.
“It was kind of like a dog smelled me and I just tried to slow down, not do anything aggressive like push him away slowly,” Vilaca said.
At one point, a wave pushed the animal against him, Vilaca said, so he pushed the animal back more aggressively, which he said scared the creature into biting.
“You don’t think about dying,” Vilaca said. “I thought more about surviving. When it bit me, I was kind of…how do I get out of this?
Vilaca was able to pull away and return to the beach without further serious incident.
He is scheduled to compete in the Malibu Super League Triathlon at 1 p.m. Saturday at Zuma Beach, according to race organizers.
Although the animal is believed to be a seal, the exact species could not be verified.
Los Angeles Times