Seals Form Unlikely Friendship With British Diver

A pod of seals off the coast of England have struck up an unlikely friendship with a diver who frequents the area, and their interactions have gone viral on social media.

Ben Burville, a GP from Northumberland, befriended the seals over the last few years, and is now so well recognized by the group that they immediately approach him when he dives near their colony. Burville admits to spending every free moment with the seals, as the Daily Mail relates, during dives off Coquet Island and the Farne islands.

“Seals are a lot brighter than people think,” he observed. “They are social animals and they are incredibly inquisitive. Seals can grasp with their flippers, which are like a human hand. They are big animals, but it is also interesting to see how gentle they can be.”

Burville noted that the seals love to play, both with divers and each other.

“They are naturally inquisitive, and I think at times they will come up close and inspect a diver as a way of asserting their place in the seal hierarchy. It’s saying ‘I’m bold’.”

After Burville’s wife, Kirsty, who is also a diver, bought a digital camera with an underwater housing, he began filming his regular dives to the sea floor, as well as his interactions with the seals.

“I was addicted,” he admits.

Burville’s videos quickly went viral after he posted them to social media, as CBS News notes, even leading to an appearance on the BBC’s Countryfile. Thanks to his seal footage, Burville has been enlisted by the Newcastle-based Marine Management Organization to help conduct a five-year-long study of white-beaked dolphins off England’s northeastern coast.

“We have to protect our marine heritage because if we don’t it will not be there for future generations,” he observed.

Earlier this month, a wildlife photographer in California was able to film the life-and-death struggle that ensued when a hungry seal chose an octopus as its prey. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the octopus struggled so violently that the seal was unable to eat it alive, instead killing the smaller animal by repeatedly tossing it.

Burville continues to regularly dive with and photograph the seals off Northumberland, posting the results to his YouTube channel.

[Image: Caters News Agency via the Daily Mail]