When a British doctor met a wild grey seal while diving off the coast of the British Farne Islands in Northumberland, he didn’t know he would be having an experience that he will remember for the rest of his life.
Ben Burville takes care of patients at his work. But in his time off he loves to dive. He’s a veteran diver with over 32 years experience. But even with all that time underwater, getting a warm hug from a seal was something new and exciting for him.
In the video of the encounter, the seal playfully approached Ben underwater, appearing to tap the diver in order to gain his attention. The seal then wraps his flippers around Burville as if embracing him.
The seal proceeded to stay glued to the doctor’s arm, appearing to be fully entertained by the doctor’s eye mask and breathing gear.
Aside from being a full-time GP, Ben also works as a researcher at the Newcastle University’s marine biology department where he studies grey seals and white dolphins. He says that seals often play games with him where they will try to remove his mask or hood. They will do that so gently and they would never hurt him. Nevertheless, that can’t be too safe for a diver!
But he is clear in that this cute moment only came about after years of interaction.
Of his filmed encounter, Ben told Caters via Rumble: “I realize that I am incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity and insight into their world that this facilitates. Having dived and observed gray seals for over 18 years, they have shown me how to dive with them in a way that they feel at ease.”
He points out that the interactions are completely up to the seals and that the population is pretty transient having new members come and go regularly. “Seals are not pets, nor are they in any way tame – these are wild seals with the population fluctuating all the time with new seals joining and others moving away.”
Through his interactions he’s learned that “certain noises are of interest to the seals.” In the video, the curious seals are obviously having a fun time “playing” with Burville, checking out his gear, pawing at him and, as the one did, hugging him.
“When they hug you or hold your hand it is hard to describe the feeling – time stops,” Burville described. “You are 100 percent aware of being in that very moment, peaceful, calm, and I suppose the term is mindful.”
It’s a truly unique experience, I’m sure, and one I’m glad Burville and his fellow divers were able to catch on film!
Watch the adorable encounter in the video below.