A teenager in South Australia said 'curiosity' got the better of him as he touched what he thought was a dead seal - only for the animal to suddenly jump to life and 'snap its head around'. Watch the heart-stopping moment below:
Flynn Webb, 17, was at Fishery Bay on the Eyre Peninsula after hearing that there was an Antarctic leopard seal on the beach.
He filmed himself approaching the seal, having assumed the creature was dead, walking up to it while reaching down with his hand to touch it.
Suddenly, however, the seal jolted up and bared its teeth at a stunned Webb, proving that it was very much still alive.
In the footage, Webb can be heard saying: "Well, I have officially touched a... OH F***K ME! HOLY S***!"
The teen posted the video on TikTok, where it soon went viral - racking up 19 million views and 3.8 million likes.
He wrote: "When you find a leopard seal from Antarctica on a beach in South Australia and think it's dead."
Speaking to ABC, Webb said he'd heard there was a seal out at Fishery Bay and hopped in his car to go take a look.
He recalled: "It looked pretty dead and wasn't moving so we thought we would go and take a closer look.
"Curiosity got the better of me to go up to it.
"I went and touched it to see what it felt like and it was still alive."
Webb, who is from Tumby Bay, added: "It snapped its head around, I used a few choice words and jumped away."
Webb wasn't the only person to see the seal, with many others in the Eyre Peninsula sharing photos and footage online.
He said: "We left it alone pretty soon after that and then rangers were called."
According to reports from locals, the seal has now headed back to the sea - no doubt for a bit of peace and quiet.
Peter Shaughnessy, an honorary research associate at the South Australian Museum, said it was slightly unusual to see an Antarctic leopard seal so far away from home.
Shaughnessy, who has more than 20 years of experience with the CSIRO and has previously travelled to the Antarctic, told ABC: "There are records from all around Australia of leopard seals [on our shores], even up in Queensland, but not many of them.
"They tend to come ashore in late winter when the pack ice melts and they are short of food."
He said the animals are at the top of the food chain, and sometimes eat other seals.
"They are well known to approach boats with tourists on them in Antarctica," Shaughnessy added.
"I've even seen people that have been bitten by them."
He also warned that if anyone else comes across a leopard seal, they're best off not approaching the predator, suggesting instead: "Stand right back and take a nice picture of it."
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