Play behavior

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One of the most positive and emotional dives you can experience is diving with cape fur seals near Cape Point, South Africa.

You can meet seals in harbour and everywhere near the shore,  but there are several places where you can find them with a guarantee. Ten minutes boat drive from Simon’s town will bring you to the rocks, where seals live, play and relax. Seals have a strong fish smell, so they don’t seem to be very cute from surface. When you enter the water, seals start approaching you. It’s hard to define is it adult females or young males.

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Underwater seals behave quite the same as dog pups – they play, swim around divers, scratching their ears while hovering in the water. After a while they become bolder, come closer and closer, start to bite gopro, strobes and even fingers. It’s a perfect example of play behavior which you can observe in wild animals. It’s definitely the same as dog pups do, so I think the seals we meet were mostly young males. Adult males are large and aggressive, it would not be so easy and fun to dive with them, but didn’t shown any interest in us and stayed on the rocks.

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Sometimes seals bite diver’s hood and start to pull it. At first it looks a bit dangerous, like you gonna be eaten right now and right here. But then you realise that it’s harmless play behavior, not the aggressive one. So when you will see another breaking news about horrible and aggressive seals attack divers, do not believe it. They just like you, so they bite your head!

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Facts about cape fur seals: They live both in Cape and southern Australia, such population division is not very likely for seals. Also, they both feed on sharks (small inshore sharks and pelagic blue sharks) and being shark’s food (great white shark).

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Meeting seals underwater brings a lot of positive emotions. Their playful, interactive and kind behavior is something unforgetable. Fairly speaking, I love seals more and more. My next plans include walruses, elephant seals, steller sea lions and leopard seals… Don’t think ill of me!

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Tales from the White sea. Bearded seals.

Tales from the White sea. Bearded seals.

Bearded seal is the biggest species of pinnipeds in White sea. We found those guys on the Top island near Solovetsky archiplago.
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The isle of Top is small, ibnhabited rocky island with the lighhouse in the middle. This silent and remote place gives you feeling of primal magic. Rocks of the island are covered with bearded seals. When the tide is getting low, bearded seals relaxing laying half-water on the rocks and wait for water to go away. This is the best moment to see them either from the boat or from the shore.

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Seals are adapted for living in the water, so they feel vulnerable while being on the shore, and jump into the water immediately when the boat approaches them. Some seals are more calm and feel comfortable being several meters close to people.

After getting into the water, seal becomes brave and shows interest about the boat. He gets closer and stares at you. Transformation of bearded seal:

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Once we woke up a seal sleeping on the surface.

In several years population of bearded seals increased in the result of hunting ban in the White sea. This is a good news for us, but local fishemen are not so happy about population reсovery – bearded seals get caught in the nets, destroying it and even dying inside.

I made several efforts to take underwater pictures of bearded seal, which will be published a bit later.