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British Scientist Killed by Antarctic Seal

LONDON (Reuters) - A British marine scientist has been killed by a seal while snorkeling off the coast of Antarctica, newspapers reported Thursday.

Kirsty Brown, 28, was attacked by a leopard seal Tuesday while she carried out research close to the Rothera research station, about 800 miles south of the Falkland Islands.

Horrified colleagues watched as Brown, a qualified diver, was pulled underwater and drowned by the seal.

Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), said Brown's death had shocked her colleagues.

Leopard seals can grow up to 15 feet long and are one of Antarctica's fiercest predators. Favorite prey are penguins but they also hunt other seals and fish.

"In 30 years we have never experienced anything like this," a BAS spokesman told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"Leopard seals are incredibly inquisitive, but are not normally aggressive. If a diver can see a leopard seal, then they will not go in the water because there is a small risk. But to our knowledge, this has never happened before."

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