Playing with seal pups

November 26, 2014 • 1:37 pm

[JAC: It’s almost a holiday—Thanksgiving in the US—so it’s time to ditch the gravitas and have some fun. Here’s the first of two pre-holiday animal videos.]

by Matthew Cobb

I declare seals, like otters, to be Aquatic Honorary Cats™. In October 2013, Vimeo user ‘SuperJohnnyAdventurepants‘ went diving on the Farne Islands (off Northumberland, on the north-east coast of the UK), and encountered some lovely seal pups, as you can see here. Turn it on to fullscreen! You might want to turn the sound off if the music isn’t your thing. (Warning – I found the music grew on me with repeated viewings, so be careful.)

Here’s the blurb on Vimeo:

Come and join me and the gang as we get the seal of approval as we visit the Farne Islands in Northumberland in October 2013. We’ve been visiting here for the last six years to say hello to the seal pups and we’ve never had this much interaction before – they were everywhere and all over us!!!! After a nightmare drive there with the worst traffic coupled with the imminent arrival of the St. Jude’s storm we didn’t think this trip was going to be worth the effort but once again the seals made every second worthwhile…….

Enjoy the show!!!

Filmed on location in the Farne Islands, UK with the help of Sovereign Divers. Contact them here:


22 thoughts on “Playing with seal pups

  1. Om’golly: that is just too, too darling ! Especially as Dr Cobb advises = via full screen ! Thank you !

    Honorary kitty cats they are, of course: see how they love their beautiful bellies and heads rubbed just the same as felids !

    Lovely !

    1. I’m pretty sure they keep nostril flaps closed while under water. However above surface they probably make enough use of smell to keep the reflex going.
      Or … are they “sniffing”, or trying to bring their whiskers (vibrissae?) into contact with the object of investigation?

  2. I declare seals, like otters, to be Aquatic Honorary Cats™. … lovely seal pups…

    Pups? Honorary cats? This doesn’t sound right. I suggest sea lions would make for better honorary cats.

  3. I love the looks of their faces when they get belly rubs etc – they’re clearly enjoying it. Makes me 🙂

  4. People might want to think twice about swimming with grey seals. Research coming out of the Netherlands this year shows that they are regularly preying on harbour porpoises in the southern North Sea. It’s possibly a new behaviour acquired as a result of opportunistically feeding on carcasses of porpoises trapped in fishing nets.

    It seems they can make quite a mess of a poor porpoise in order to get at all that lovely, energy-rich blubber.

    1. I saw that article too, and was going ot post a similar comment. Canine distemper of various sorts is also occasionally epidemic in this (North Sea) population, and probably others. So good diving practice is to thoroughly clean your kit after contact (e.g. do a pool session in the local swimming pool, with plenty of chlorine).
      A couple of years ago I was looking at this very diving company for a detour when the wife and I were planning a jolly down to Geordieland. Couldn’t fit my diving kit and her stuff into the car at the one time, so shelved it. But it does look very fun. A corollary is that this seal colony is well acquainted with divers and seems to have got habituated to the presence of hoomins in the water. Many other colonies are much more skittish.
      On some of the Scottish islands, fishermen can still get licenses to shoot seals, on the grounds that they steal fish from fish farms.

  5. Definitely honorary kitties… And I have no doubt they, like cats, feel great pity toward us given our awkward, feeble, and very un-seal (cat) like behavior.

  6. Diving with seals has long been on my wishlist of activities I want to do. But for that I would have to upgrade to a dry suit which is an expense that I currently cannot justify.

    For now I would settle to dive with dolphins. But So far I’ve only managed to interact with them from the boat. Never on a dive.

  7. Pedant alert!!!:

    It would be more accurate to describe the Farne Islands as being off the north east coast of England rather than the UK – there is a lot of Scotland to the north of the Farnes. Professor Cobb betraying his west coast perspective there!

    Seriously though, the Farne Islands are a wonderful place with fantastic sea bird colonies, eider ducks and a large population of grey seals. There are various boats that run trips out to the islands throughout the summer from the harbour village of Seahouses on the mainland.

  8. I have experienced a very personal connection with a pretty blond sea lion in the Sea of Cortez. While norkeling my wife pointed out a sea lion that was posing to get my attention. I explained to her that she was reading too much human into the posturing. It was a rather cute yellowish young female, who soon tumbled off the rocks into the water. My wife swam very near the rocks to avoid an interaction. I had no fear. The sea lion swam right toward me and rolled inverted, touching her fins along my body as she swam by. I dove down about 10 feet. This time she approached me directly slowing, opening her mouth, showing very white teeth. I froze, hoping for the best. She took my entire face into her mouth, just making lip contact. She paused way too long, it was now clear that this was a kiss. She then swam away with jubilation. My wife was right, if her 1500 pound boyfriend saw this, I was dead meat. I quickly swam to the dinghy and we departed. About half a mile away we encounterd a rock where the badly injured loser males had collected. That could have been me. She was so cute.

    1. Wow! I’m glad you lived to tell the tale!

      As a matter of interest, do male sea-lions actually fight over females in the water or is the fighting confined to the beach in amongst the harems?

  9. Hi there…..after seeing all your nice comments I couldn’t help myself by posting the sequel to my last seal video…..we went back there just a few weeks ago and this was the result:

    Hope you enjoy!!!


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