Getting up close and personal with marine life is a wonderful experience, but it's important to remember your safety skills and respect the marine life around you and the waters you are snorkelling in.
Blue skies, calm seas and a trip to Lundy snorkelling with the seals – what more could any snorkeller ask for…not a lot. Just last weekend we were treated to the playful acrobatics of Lundy’s resident seal population with the occasional tug of a fin. The seals of Lundy and The Farne Islands are used to divers, snorkellers and other human sightseers but we should never forget we are visitors to their environment.
Also, in the water around Lundy was perhaps, the biggest selection of jellyfish I have seen in a long time. One of our snorkellers had a ‘coming together’ with a compass jellyfish and had quite a red mark to show for it.
Respect for our marine life is important. Equally we should know what to do if we do have an encounter which is a bit too close for comfort.
- Marg Baldwin, Snorkel Instructor Trainer
How to snorkel safely with seals
- Seals haul out on to rocks to moult, breed, rest and digest their food. All of this requires energy, do not disturb them!
- Seals are frequently seen with their noses just out of the water – they are resting and will often be digesting their food– do not disturb them!
- If you are in an area with a visible seal population and are hoping to see them in the water with you – let the seals approach you this is fine as the encounter is on their terms.
- To ensure your encounter is enjoyable for both you and the seals if you observe any behaviour which might indicate stress, such as increased vocalisation, teeth bearing or rapid entry into the water move away and allow the seal to recover.
- Do not try to touch or feed the seals. Remember they are strong and powerful with large teeth.
- It is highly unlikely they will be aggressive towards you, but they can be playful, and their flippers are not sensitive so they explore objects with their mouth (like dogs) often ‘mouthing’ with their teeth to test density – often on fins or surface marker buoys.
- When having a close encounter with seals remain calm and quiet as fast sudden movements can spook seals and should their teeth or claws come into contact with you and break your skin causing bleeding you are advised to seek medical advice as antibiotics may be necessary.
- Do take plenty of pictures but avoid using flash photography as this may scare the seals.
Read our next snorkel safety blog - How to snorkel safely with jellyfish