Rhino bitten by seal: Vilaca in ocean drama ahead of SLT Malibu

News Director

Last week Vasco Vilaca roared into second place at Super League Triathlon’s Championship Series in Munich, only Matt Hauser of Team Eagles just getting the better of him on the final run.

But ahead of Saturday’s third race in Malibu, it was a seal rather than an eagle which proved a problematic adversary!

Cleared to race

The 22-year-old Portuguese star was on a training swim with many of his fellow athletes at Zuma Beach, with the footage all captured by an SLT drone and embedded below.

YouTube video

Vilaca talked through the dramatic incident afterwards, explaining: “I was just swimming in the ocean and was unlucky enough to swim towards where a seal was. It started swimming towards me and got very close and it felt like a dog smelling me.

“I tried to just slowly, without doing anything aggressive, push it away and at a certain point there was a strong wave that pushed it against me and then I pushed it more aggressively away because it was on me and then it got scared and bit my arm and wouldn’t let go.”

Thankfully another large wave dislodged the seal and Vilaca was able to push it away without distressing the animal, while he swam back to shore to be treated at a medical facility.

He received treatment for the wound and has been discharged to race at the weekend, saying: “When it bit me I had a wetsuit on but one of the teeth cut through and punctured through the skin. When I was grabbing the teeth from underneath and was grabbing the mouth was when I got a few cuts on my hands. I am happy to be ok.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
Latest News
Kristian Blummenfelt running at Malibu SLT in 2021 photo credit: Super League Triathlon
Malibu Triathlon and Super League race both at risk from ENDANGERED FISH
WTCS Hamburg podium 2023 Vasco Vilaca Hayden Wilde Alex Yee photo credit Tommy Zaferes / World Triathlon
Can Alex Yee make it third time lucky in the bid for world triathlon title glory in Pontevedra?
Lionel Sanders Jackson Laundry Trevor Foley podium celebrations Michigan photo credit IRONMAN
Seconds out for Sanders, Laundry and Jewett as Michigan stars face swift Augusta rematch
Arena Games Triathlon Finals Singapore - Jess Learmonth
Jess Learmonth announces new arrival as baby Freddie makes his grand entrance!
Beth Potter wins Paris Test Event 2023 [Photo credit: World Triathlon]
‘Winning becomes quite addictive’ – Beth Potter talks Paris, Pontevedra and progress