Ross: Woman bit by seal near San Juan Island ‘still loves seals’

Aug 22, 2023, 7:57 AM

seal bit san juan...

FILE-A harbor seal looks around in Casco Bay in this July 30, 2020 file photo off Portland, Maine. A research team at Colgate University has developed SealNet, a facial recognition database of seal faces created by taking pictures of dozens of harbor seals in Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, Files)

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, Files)

Last Friday, Dana Halter, a published author, a mom, and a triathlete, was making her annual deep-water swim in the San Juans, circumnavigating tiny Trump Island, and she was a mile in, battling rough seas, when her escort in the rowboat noticed she had company.

DANA: “[My escort boat] said, ‘Did you see there’s a harbor seal following you?’ And I said ‘No,'” Dana said. “And at that exact moment, the seal bit my shin, and it was an incredibly painful, very deep bite. Then she just took off.”

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This had to be a terrible misunderstanding because Dana strikes me as a really nice person. She’s been on excellent terms with the harbor seal, and even played with one of them during a swim near Golden Gardens.

“I was swimming and saw a flash of silver below me, and it actually was a harbor seal playing with me, doing barrel rolls,” she said.

She loves seals.

“They remind me of dogs,” Dana said. “They’re so lovely.”

And the only explanation she has for the attack is that the seal was, like her, a Mom.

“She was like, ‘please get away from my child,’ and she got her wish because I have never swam so fast,” Dana said.

Dana broke her own record for the ten-stroke dash, hauled herself into the rowboat, and headed for the Emergency Room in Anacortes.

Eight stitches. Which are coming out today.

Dana plans to take it easy for two weeks, but she intends to be back in the water.

So this morning, I am asking all of you marine life whisperers, and I know you are out there, please spread the word that Dana is a friend, she means no harm to any harbor seal pups, she’s just out to get a little exercise.

“I still love seals,” she said. “I still think seals are terrific.”

By the way, since I know it will come up, the island she was circumnavigating is indeed named Trump Island, but he doesn’t own it, and there’s no family connection.

Although some of the defensiveness may have rubbed off on the local wildlife.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Woman bit by seal near San Juan Island ‘still loves seals’