Occurred on / UK
Info: This video shows a grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) playing with cameraman/diver Ben @Sealdiver off the Northumberland coast, UK. I would not advocate 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. They are more related to bears than dogs.
I have dived with, observed and filmed grey seals for over 20 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. Respect nature and nature is full of surprises.