An Unforgettable Experience
Before he plunged into the water, they warned him. They told him that nobody knew what to expect from the deep waters below. It was well known that predators lurked within, and they were waiting for a chance to strike. But he simply didn't believe them. Yet there he was, surrounded and outnumbered.
Things weren't looking good for him. But then he looked up and saw the seal, his panic started to fade. It was just trying to tell him something.
Diving As A Passion
Gary Grayson had grown up obsessed with the deep blue sea. As a child, he would torment his parents by sticking on the same ocean life documentary over and over again. 'I'm going to be a marine biologist,' Gary would say. While that didn't quite pan out for the adult Gary, he had the next best thing.
Diving was a rewarding and enriching hobby for him. And he had a special trip coming up.
The Isles of Scilly
As a 40th birthday surprise present, Gary's friends booked a scuba vacation in the Isles of Scilly. Gary had no shortage of diving experience. He had dived around the world, from Mexico to Cuba, encountering giant manta rays and other creatures along the way.
But there was a special reason he wanted to visit these waters off the coast of Cornwall.
Gary was a treasure hunter of sorts. He believed that there were unclaimed goods at the bottom of the ocean begging to be discovered. The Isles of Scilly were said to have shipwrecked jewels hidden on the seabed. But they were also believed to have things that you would not want to discover.
Gary had heard tales, but he didn't know how true they were. The tales spoke of creatures—the unpleasant, almost mythical kind.
You don't need to be David Attenborough to know that the creatures at the bottom of the sea look scary. Being deprived of light will do weird things to an organism. Tales of a giant squid with arms so long that it bordered on the ridiculous were common around the Isle of Scilly. But these were tall tales.
What Gary feared was meeting a creature that could be found in the clear water.
Global Warming Migrations
A more pressing concern for Gary than mythical creatures was the very real and very big fish that have migrated due to the effects of global warming. New research shows different shark breeds could head to waters around England to combat rising ocean temperatures.
Gary knew of one animal that had been legitimately spotted in those waters. One with lots of teeth.
Different sharks had been spotted in the waters off of the Isles of Scilly. Porbeagles and Thresher sharks were among them. While these rarely pose threats to humans, there was an account of a fisherman being decapitated by a tail swipe. This worried Gary, and he knew he would need to be careful.
He didn't want to end up on the list of people to have gone missing in those waters. He had to make sure to pack one thing.
After making sure he had his fins and ticking every other required item from the checklist, Gary joined his pals for a scuba session.
The waters were clear, and they allowed them to see the contents of the sea. They saw reefs and colorful coral. They saw wrecks and ruins from a bygone era. The experience was a fun and illuminating one. That was until visitors showed up. Then it became something different.
Gary saw the shadow before he saw what cast it. The sheer size of it frightened him, so he tried to spin around as fast as he could in the water.
He could hardly believe his eyes. It was a seal. And he wasn't alone. There was a brigade of them, and they were coming fast.
A First Encounter
Gary was frozen to the spot. He had been warned about the wild animals of the ocean being unpredictable. Now he understood.
These seals had come from nowhere. Now they were surrounded. And although the seals had sweet faces and calm expressions, Gary knew that their mood could change in a heartbeat. 'We're in their territory now,' Gary thought. But then his panic melted away. The seals wanted to show him something.
They Were Pups
Seals can be very heavy creatures, weighing up to 450 pounds. However, Gary noticed that these seals were smaller than usual. The reason? They were pups.
And a blind man could tell from their behavior that they were pups. They wanted to show Gary that they were playful. Although Gary was thrilled on the inside, he didn't want to show it on the outside. He wondered how far the mother could be if the pups were here. Then he got his answer.
Gary waited for the mother to show up, but she never came. All the while, the pups were rubbing themselves against him and touching him with their flippers.
Gary was petting them gently and even holding hands with some of them. It felt impossible to turn away their sweet faces. He hoped he wouldn't regret letting his guard down. Then, when he was least expecting it, he felt the jaws of a pup close around his hand.
Gary thought he was in trouble when he felt the seal's jaws close on his hand. He was already thinking of where he could get prosthetic replacements. But the crunch of a bite never came. Instead, it was gentle gnawing. These pups knew their own strength, and they wanted to show that they meant no harm.
In a moment of what Gary would later call cartoonish overkill, the same seal appeared to be smiling proudly at him. Then its expression changed.
There's Something Else
The seal pulled away from Gary. The smile dropped. It was as though the seal had been sent for a greater mission, and now he was remembering it.
He took Gary by the hand and appeared to motion for him to follow. Gary wanted to know what it was that the seal wanted to show him.
The seal let go of Gary's hand and lay on its back. 'Wow,' he thought to himself, 'these guys really are the dogs of the sea.'
He knew what the seal wanted before they parted. No further communication was required. Gary obligingly rubbed the seal's belly and threw in a few chin scratches for good measure. It was the least he could do for such a good boy.
Even though Gary might’ve had a fantastic experience with the seals, that’s not always the case. Seals are wild animals and have certain instincts because of that. If they feel threatened they could attack and if they’re hungry they might try to take a nibble.
So it’s always a good idea to be cautious around them, whether they seem friendly or not.
Amazingly the first ancestors of seals entered the oceans approximately 28 to 30 million years ago, making the species quite old. But that’s not the only fascinating thing there is to know about seals. An average harbor seal can grow to between 4 to 5 feet in length and weigh between 220 and 250 pounds.
So they can make quite an impact on a human if they were to defend themselves.
Besides their length and weight seals also have big teeth that are used to catch and eat their prey. Those teeth can do quite serious damage if they were to snap down on an arm or a leg.
So even though they look incredibly cute and you might want to cuddle one, you should be wary.
But as we saw with Gary’s case, seals can also be incredibly friendly animals. That’s probably due to the fact they live in large social groups and sometimes get in contact with humans.
Be it to help them out, to have a friendly encounter with us, or simply because we’re a means of escape there are a few seals that have had experiences with humans.
There are many people who have shared stories of their encounters with seals. There was a man who developed a friendship with one. Another person had a story of a seal jumping onto his boat to escape a killer whale and even a story of a seal slapping a man with an octopus.
But these tourists had an encounter they would never forget.
Many people believe that Namibia is simply a desert, but that isn’t the case. Namibia is the place where the desert and ocean meet so it’s understandable that there are quite a few tours being offered to locals and tourists alike.
What would you expect to see if you booked a dolphin cruise?
A Dolphin Cruise
The people who had booked to go on this dolphin cruise expected to see dolphins, as anyone would. But they were in for quite a surprise. Dolphins are majestic creatures of the sea, and that’s why many of us are so fascinated with them.
However, something else decided to come along and give these tourgoers the surprise of a lifetime.
The boat was gently bobbing about the water as the attendees looked at the beautiful ocean that surrounded them. That was when something completely unexpected happened. A seal poked his head out of the water.
The tour guide approached the edge of the boat to see the creature and suddenly everyone gasped.
A Sight To Behold
With a smile the tour guide told the passengers to make way and when they did the seal hopped onto the boat. He looked over at the people who were staring at him in shock and seemed rather pleased with their reactions.
The seal came further onto the boat and basically filled the bench in the middle.
It truly was a sight to behold, especially when the seal extended his fin for a handshake. The tour guide gladly obliged and introduced the visitor as Junior. He was all too happy to be the center of attention and kept asking for handshakes.
It was clear that even though Junior was living in the wild, he had been trained.
The tour guide called junior forward and fed him fish while giving the tourist a bit of information about him and his species. She also mentioned a couple of fun facts that are noteworthy. For one a seal will never eat a fish tail first, even if it’s handed to them that way.
And even though the outer layer of a seal’s fur is always wet, the layers beneath it are kept dry.
Not Afraid Of Being Touched
It was a shock for the tourists at first but once they saw how friendly and charming Junior was their minds were set at ease. He was well-behaved and had no problem with the tour guide touching him but I’m sure a few of the guests wanted to do it too.
Who would want a picture with a friendly seal?
Up Close And Personal
And they sure got a chance. Every person on the vessel had a chance to interact with Junior, they even had a chance to touch him. It’s not every day that you can run your fingers through a seal’s fur without being worried that you might end up injured.
And that was what made their trip so extraordinary.
Besides allowing the guests to touch him and being super friendly, Junior went the extra mile. He even posed for their pictures and brought a smile to everyone's face with the cute positions he took.
But was it all planned by the company that does the tours? Can anyone get their picture taken with this friendly fella?
That is something we, unfortunately, don’t know but from the looks of things it is possible that Junior was a part of the package. However, the one thing we are certain about is that it must’ve been an incredible experience for all those aboard the cruise ship.
Would you pay to have such an amazing experience?
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.