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Seal kills scientist in Antarctic

The BAS has been on the Antarctic for 30 years
The BAS has been on the Antarctic for 30 years

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LONDON, England -- A marine biologist at the British Antarctic Survey has been killed by a leopard seal as she snorkeled.

The seal attacked Kirsty Brown without warning and dragged her underneath the water as she snorkeled in a bay near the organization's base at Rothera on the Antarctic Peninsular.

An onshore cover team was called and helped pull the 28-year-old from the water but, despite resuscitation attempts on the boat and at the research station, she died.

It is the first death of a British survey scientists on the icebound continent in 21 years, the organization said.

Brown, who is an experienced diver, was on the Antarctic as part of 30-month contract looking into the effects of icebergs on inshore marine life.

Leopard seals are solitary animals that inhabit the pack-ice surrounding the area, growing up to 3.5 meters long. They are inquisitive, but rarely attack humans. They will eat anything from penguins to other seals, fish, squid and crustaceans.

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) director Chris Rapley said in a statement: "This is tragic and shocking. Kirsty was a vibrant, dynamic individual committed to her science and with a promising scientific career ahead of her."

No-one else was injured and the BAS has launched a full investigation.

The Rothera station is a center for biology, geoscience and atmospheric science programs, housing 22 research and support staff.

Brown, whose family lives in West Sussex, in southern UK, has studied at the University of London, Southampton University and the University of Adelaide in Australia.


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