If you haven’t dreamed of scritching a seal pup behind the ear, I don’t even want to know you. And these divers in the Farne Islands near England got to live that dream with some young Atlantic grey seals, who live near the islands in huge numbers.
Humans rarely get to experience this kind of communion with playful seal pups, mostly because humans rarely live in the water:
According to Sue Wilson, chairperson of the Seal Conservation Society, seals don’t engage in much social interaction when they are on dry land. But it’s a whole new story in the water, where they engage in prolonged play — rolling and twisting around each other in continuous contact, often putting their flippers around each other.
Apparently what looks like joyful exuberance, though, might just be itchiness, according to marine biodiversity officer Kelly Froud with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust:
When a pup is nursing, she says, the mother seal will often scratch the pup. “This could be to aid the molting process, to loosen the fur or perhaps it could be a sign of affection,” she added. “Perhaps this is why the seals in the video are so keen to be ‘petted.’”
Froud also warned the Dodo that baby seals are sharper than they look, and playing with them could put a diver in danger from their teeth or claws. In short, you’re probably never going to experience this kind of underwater frolicking, so you’d better enjoy the cute video because it’s all you’re likely to get.