Science Now

Surfing with a wild seal [Video]: Why it's a lousy idea

Adorable video shows seal romping with surfers. Such a bad idea, animal expert says.

GoPro video of a small seal dogging a pair of surfers and riding their boards has gone viral on YouTube with more than 1.2 million views since it was posted Monday.

Matt Stanley and Andrew Flounders were surprised by the romping seal as they surfed off northeastern England recently.

“Me and my friend Andrew were out enjoying some summer waves when this little guy came along," the YouTube posting explains. "We didn’t know what it was! It nudged his foot from underneath."

Stanley told the BBC it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A spokesman for the Cornish Seal Sanctuary told the news outlet "this can happen even in the wild" because seals can be "very friendly."

The adorable footage spurred a lot of oohing and aahing by commenters on YouTube.

Frances Gulland, of the Marine Mammal Center, didn't ooh or ahh, but she did respond to the Los Angeles Times with an "Oh, wow."

"No, this isn’t normal harbor seal behavior," the senior scientist at the Sausalito, Calif., center said by email. "They are usually rather shy."

Stanley and Flounders reportedly played with the seal for about an hour, after which it followed them in to shore. Gulland advised an opposite approach: Steer clear of seals in the wild.

"Seals can bite and also carry infections on their teeth that can result in infected bite wounds," she said.


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