Heartwarming footage shows a wild grey seal hugging and tenderly stroking a diver. Ben Burville, 49, was exploring the coast of the Farne Islands, Northumberland, last month when he had the captivating encounter.
The British doctor looks astonished as the creature snuggles into his chest and flips over to have its stomach tickled like a playful puppy. The affectionate seal can be seen patting Ben’s arm and sniffing him, seemingly fascinated by his diving gear. As he leans forward, the seal brings its nose up to his face and at one point it wraps its flippers around him as he strokes its back. It also taps its nose against his goggles before clambering over his head and caressing his face.
Ben says the seals try to play games and remove his diving gear as if they have an awareness of what he needs to stay alive underwater. At one point in the clip, the seal pushes off his goggles. ‘They do so very gently and never hurt me,’ he said. But he also points out that they are not tame, have long claws and harbour numerous bacteria in their mouths so it is generally not advisable to touch them.
The British Isle’s population of grey seals has increased by 140 per cent since dropping to just 500 in the early 20th century, according to The Wildlife Trust. They believe the grey seals in Britain now represent 40 per cent of the total number of grey seals in the world.
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