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Seal Spotted Spitting Water at Passing Eagle in Bizarre 'Never Before Seen' Animal Encounter

The surprising animal interaction was captured on camera by a birdwatcher Clare Jacobs

<p>Clare Jacobs</p> A grey seal spitting a stream of water at a white-tailed eagle

Clare Jacobs

A grey seal spitting a stream of water at a white-tailed eagle

A grey seal recently took a unique approach to letting an eagle know it was flying too close.

A new study from the University of Portsmouth — published in the Isle of Wight Natural History and Archaeological Society journal — shared photos of the shocking interaction, which birdwatcher Clare Jacobs captured on camera in Newtown Harbour on the Isle of Wight.

According to the U.K. university, Jacobs was near the water during high tide in Newton Harbour when she saw a white-tailed eagle swoop over the ocean and descend towards the water's surface.

As the bird of prey approached the water, a grey seal emerged from below and broke the surface. First, the marine mammal let out a few barks at the eagle, and then, in an "unprecedented defensive tactic," the seal spat a stream of water right at the bird.

Related: Thousands Watch Eagle Couple Bicker Over Child Rearing Tactics While Waiting for Eggs to Hatch

This is the first time this seal behavior has been observed and recorded, according to the University of Portsmouth.

"I'm always thrilled to catch photos of the eagles. But catching such a rare and never before seen interaction made my year!" Jacobs told the university about spotting the scene.

<p>Clare Jacobs</p> A grey seal barking at a passing white-tailed eagle

Clare Jacobs

A grey seal barking at a passing white-tailed eagle

After capturing the moment, Clare knew just who to tell: her daughter Meg Jacobs, a paleontologist from the University of Portsmouth's School of the Environment, Geography, and Geoscience.

Meg went on to co-author the University of Portsmouth study about the behaviors of these two predators and what they could mean for the species.

"This is the first record of an interaction between these two top predators and the first report of grey seals using spitting as a means of defense or deterrence against an aerial foe," Meg shared in a University of Portsmouth release.

Related: Grandma Orca Whale Body Slams Great White Shark in Intense Ocean Battle — Watch!

"The spitting may be a strategy to exclude white-tailed eagles from competing for prey as they're in direct competition for fish resources," she added.

Meg also mentioned that spitting is not usually seen in vertebrates outside humans, camels, llamas, and alpacas. The encounter her mom documented "challenges our existing perceptions of animal defense mechanisms."

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Another unusual animal interaction recently attracted attention in South Africa. In early March, scientists shared details about an orca whale attack on a great white shark.

The killer whale managed to attack and kill the shark on its own in under two minutes. Scientists have recorded multiple orcas attacking a great white shark, but this is one of the first widely observed instances of an orca whale taking on one of the predators solo.

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