Sealed with a Kiss

July 20, 2020

Carmel, California

The story of a seal who stole my heart, then stole my lead.

Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are curious critters and sometimes take it upon themselves to investigate their topside visitors. This involves shenanigans like following you, pulling on your fins, chewing on your gear, and sometimes even messing with your camera. On this particular day, the seal chose the latter.

I had put the camera rig down to pick up some debris when a silvery seal swam over to play with her newfound toy. Seeing the opportunity, I waited until she left for a breath of air, then swam over to set up the camera for video. I knew a single inspection wouldn’t pass muster and that she'd return for another look. Sure enough, a few minutes later she returned to nose the dome port some more. Eventually she became bored of the rig and instead turned her attention to a weight that was pinning the camera down...

Next thing I knew that weight was in her mouth and she was hightailing it out of there with the stolen goods, like a dog with a swiped bone. She soon reappeared through the murk, sans weight, and spent the rest of the dive following and playing hide and seek with me. As for the weight, it remains unrecovered property, lost in an abyss known only to one cheeky seal.

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