Did a seal attack a triathlete near Malibu? Video captures animal encounter

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A 22-year-old Portuguese triathlete training for an upcoming race at Malibu this week was bitten by an animal believed to be a seal, race organizers said.

The athlete, Vasco Vilaca, was not seriously injured in the encounter at Zuma Beach, according to a Friday report by Super League Triathlon.

The incident happened late in the morning on Thursday, the triathlon said.

“So the wounds are not too bad,” Vilaca said in a video posted by race organizers. “It bit my arm. Luckily I had the wetsuit and it protected me pretty well, only one of the teeth really poking through the wetsuit.

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Vilaca said he also got cuts to his hand when he grabbed the animal’s mouth to try to pry itself free after it wouldn’t let go.

At first, he said, he noticed the animal coming toward him, but didn’t know what to do.

“It kind of felt like a dog smelling me and I just tried it slowly, without doing anything aggressive like pushing it away slowly,” Vilaca said.

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At one point, a wave pushed the animal against him, Vilaca said, so he pushed the animal away more aggressively, which he believes scared the animal and caused it to bite.

“You don’t think about dying,” Vilaca said. “I was thinking more about survival. When it bit me, I was more like… how do I get out of this situation?”

Vilaca was able to leave and return to the beach without further serious incident.

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According to the organizers, he will race in the Super League Triathlon Malibu at Zuma Beach on Saturday at 1 p.m.

While the animal is believed to be a seal, the exact species could not be verified.

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