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

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!


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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
Article by
Jonathan is Editorial Director for TRI247 and RUN247. He was previously Head of Digital / Comms for pro cycling's Team Sky and now spends as much time as he can running with his local club. Swimming is not yet on the radar.