Man with fur seal bite given urgent attention in South Atlantic

A man with a fur seal bite was given urgent  medical attention in the South Atlantic by British forces. The patient was visiting the remote frozen island of South Georgia, a British overseas territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean, with MV Akademic Sergei, a Russian cruise ship, when he sustained a serious arm injury.

The boat he was travelling in, a polar research vessel, was taking him back to the Falkland Islands.

Crews from the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, who were based in the Falkland Islands, 800 nautical miles away, went to the man’s aid.

The patient was later taken by air to a hospital in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands.

Fur seal bite can be extremely dangerousFur seals are larger than normal seals, weighing up to 317 kg (700 lbs) and can walk or even run on their flippers. They gather on beaches in large numbers during mating season and can be aggressive. (Image: Wikipedia)

While at Salisbury Plain Beach on South Georgia, the man was bitten by a fur seal. Portsmouth-based HMS Clyde, an RAF Search & Rescue helicopter and an RAF Hercules were sent with a military doctor on board to treat the patient.

Commander Darren Bone said:

“We were able to deliver him to hospital in Stanley over 24 hours earlier than would have been the case had he remained on the ship.”

“This successful rescue operation, conducted at maximum range from the Falkland Islands, demonstrates very clearly the value and capability of British naval and air forces working together.”

This aid mission follows the rescue by British forces of all 347 passengers and crew members from a stricken French cruise ship Le Boreal.

Rescue of man with fur seal biteThe rescue helicopter had to refuel due to the long distance. (Credit: Ministry of Defence)

About fur seals

There are many types of fur seals. The Antarctic Fur Seal lives in a harsh and cold environment.

In order to survive, it has adapted by evolving a very thick layer of underfur covered by a layer of short rough fur on the top.

Its underfur keeps the water out (waterproof) and insulates the animal (keeps it warm). These seals were hunted for their fur many years ago.

Today they are protected, and fortunately, have made an amazing recovery.

The fur seal feeds on plankton and fish, but may also hunt squid and eels. It is often targeted prey for large aquatic animals such as killer whales, sharks, sea lions and occasionally the bigger adult leopard seals.

Defence Headquarters Video – Man bitten by fur seal rescued

Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel based in the Falkland Islands have conducted a long range rescue of a British man, who had been bitten by a fur seal, from a Russian cruise ship.