'Holy S***': Man Terrified After Seal on Beach Comes Back to Life

A man got more than he bargained for when he attempted to film a video of himself touching a leopard seal he presumed had died.

Footage of Flynn Webb's terrifying encounter has gone viral on TikTok, racking up more than 18 million views in the space of a few short days.

An avid fisherman from Tumba Bay, South Australia, Webb regularly shares pictures of his latest catches with friends and fans on Facebook and Instagram.

However, it's the video of his latest encounter that has got people talking on social media.

In the clip, which can be viewed here, Webb and some friends can be seen approaching a leopard seal in the dead of night by torchlight.

According to a caption that accompanies the video, the animal, which is more commonly found in Antarctica, was discovered washed up on a beach in South Australia.

Spotting the lifeless-looking animal lying on the shore, Webb attempted to get a video of himself touching the rarely spotted seal.

However, what he ends up getting instead is the fright of his life.

In a flash what begins as an ordinary enough video descends into a cacophony of screams and expletives.

'I have officially touched a ... oh f*** me, holy s***!' Webb shouts as the seal springs into life at his mere touch, snapping back and bearing its teeth at him and his companions.

Taking several quick steps back, he watches as the seal briefly snarls in his direction before returning to its dormant state.

A follow-up TikTok video shows Webb and his friends looking at the animal from a safe distance.

"Did you help it?" one follower, posting under the handle frick_frack_snack, asked.

"Wish we could but there's not much you can do for it," he replied, adding in another message that they called the relevant authorities but were told "there's nothing they can do."

Newsweek has reached out to Webb for comment.

According to Emily Osterloff at the Natural History Museum, leopard seals are mainly found around Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands.

She notes that some have been known to reach the coasts of New Zealand and Australia, but that "these are vagrants that have ended up there by accident."

Named on account of their black spotted coat, the diet of the average leopard seal varies depending on the time of year.

Fish and krill form the basis of much of their diet in summer, while the winter months, when the ice expands, bring with them the opportunity to hunt seals and penguins in the Antarctic's shallower waters.

While extremely rare, there have been some recorded human deaths involving leopard seals, with the most recent coming in 2003 when researcher Kirsty Brown died after being dragged underwater by one of the seal mammals.

Osterloff says that while "humans are not typical prey for leopard seals" their shape is "probably fairly similar to that of a penguin" when it waddles on the ice.

Like many of its species, leopard seals are protected under law.

Last month, a Louisiana couple issued an apology after posting several videos online showing people touching an endangered Hawaiian monk seal.

Under state and federal laws, it is illegal to touch, harass, injure or kill the seals. Anyone found breaching those rules faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 fine.

In Greece, meanwhile, a spearfisherman sparked outraged after killing an endangered Mediterranean monk seal.

A leopard seal in the ice.
Stock image of a leopard seal - a man in Australia was given the fright of his life after coming across a leopard seal he initially thought had died. pilipenkoD/Getty