Let’s get one thing straight: seals are adorable.
In this video published by National Geographic, the seal follows a kayaker in Scotland’s Forth Estuary, an arm of the North Sea near Edinburgh. After tailing kayaker Alistair Forrest and his companion for about a mile, the seal took advantage of a break in the paddling to hop aboard Forrest’s kayak. There, the sleek marine mammal sprawled out as if ready to come along. Forrest and his companion voice their amazement at the unplanned wildlife encounter.
According to the accompanying National Geographic article, “Instances of seals hauling out onto kayaks aren’t common, but neither are they entirely unheard of. And sea lions, which are often mistaken for seals, are also known to hitch a ride. This particular seal—likely a juvenile, judging by its size and especially brazen interest—showed no signs of fear or aggression, instead seeming to enjoy a novel adventure.”
So what should you do in situations like the one in this video? According to the article, “Splashing a hand in the water or reaching out to touch the seal are definitely not the actions to take. In the United States, the Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits people from approaching seals and other marine mammals. In the rare scenario a seal tries to hop onto your kayak, it’s best to paddle away calmly.”