A friendly wild grey seal was filmed giving a diver cuddles and tickles during a dive off the UK coast.
Affectionate interaction for British diver
A British doctor was filmed having the encounter of a lifetime when a wild grey seal lovingly hugged him and caressed his arm and face. Ben Burville, a doctor by professional and veteran diver of over 32 years, received the loving attention by the seal whilst he was diving off the coast of the Farne Islands, Northumberland, UK, in September 2018.
Friendly Wild Grey Seal Gives a Big Hug to a Human Diver
Ben Burville, a GP by profession, and veteran diver of over 32 years, received the loving embrace and lots of attention from the seal whilst he was diving off the coast of the Farne Islands, Northumberland, UK, in September 2018.
Showing behavioural traits similar to a puppy yearning for attention, the seal playfully approached Ben underwater, appearing to tap the diver in order to gain his attention before wrapping its flippers around him for the pair to share a comforting cuddle.
A warning from diver Ben Burville
These images show a grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) playing with Ben Burville @Sealdiver off the Northumberland coast, UK.
It is not advised that divers ever touch marine life, especially seals as they have powerful jaws, full of sharp teeth and numerous bacteria that can result in "seal finger" or other infections.
These bacteria include mycobacterium species , Streptococcus halichoeri and others.
Watching the playful behaviour of seals it is easy to liken them to "underwater dogs" however, it must be kept in mind that these are wild seals, not pets and quite far removed from dogs.
(Average weight labrador retriever dog adult 34kg/75lbs, average female grey seal 154kg/340lbs, male 220kg/485lbs)
They are more related to bears than dogs!
‘I have dived with, observed and filmed grey seals for over 18 years and over this period they have helped show me how to dive with them in a way that they feel very relaxed. I dive with seals all year round and cannot remember when I last dived and wasn’t approach by a seal underwater that made physical contact with me.
To those who may be critical of any contact, please understand that the seal is 100% in control of any underwater encounters.
They are social animals that engage in play and are simply redirecting play to me as a diver.
These encounters are not with conditioned, habituated or "tame" seals, in fact, I very rarely dive with the same seals. The reason I have such access is because of techniques learnt from the seals – mainly movement and vocalisations. I have taken these techniques and dived with seals in remote locations around the UK coast (inc Cornwall and Scotland) with exactly the same results.
These videos hopefully demonstrate how gentle and trusting seals can be. They are intelligent and having spent more time underwater with grey seals than probably anyone in the world, I would trust wild grey seals more than any domesticated dog.
I have sympathy for fishermen and others who make a living by catching salmon etc.
However, having spent 100’s of hours underwater with these inquisitive marine mammals I have been struck by their gentle behaviour and would implore people to consider every possible option to avoid harming seals in any way.
Seals take less than 1% of the total stock biomass in the North Sea.
Respect nature and nature is full of surprises.’ ~ Ben Burville
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