Guidelines for Seal Encounters this Summer

Recently a number of human-seal interactions have come to the attention of the Organization involving both open sea swimmers and divers. The following is a set of guidelines we offer to swimmers who may encounter seals while swimming this summer.

Two species of seals are found around the coasts of Ireland, the Grey and the Common Seal. The Grey Seal is larger than the Common Seal and despite their name, the Common Seal is not as common as the Grey Seal. Male Grey Seals can grow to about 8 feet long and weight up to 330Kgs.

Coast users will be familiar with seals and as a general rule they are shy of humans, boats, jet skis etc. However, we have noticed a greater interaction between seals and humans in recent years in more populated areas. To our knowledge, these interactions are purely of a friendly and curious nature.

Lets not forget there are two types of interactions:

  1. Those initiated by humans: These are ill-advised, e.g. approaching, petting,
    feeding seals etc.

  2. Those initiated by seals. These are far more rare and of more concern to the
    Open Sea Swimmer.

On record they are of just a playful or curious nature. Bearing in mind the size and wildness of the animal, and your vulnerability in the water, we offer the following guidelines:

  • DO NOT swim alone

  • DO NOT panic, as the seal is unlikely to be anything but curious.

  • DO NOT encourage physical contact with the seal, either friendly or threatening.

  • DO NOT make any assumptions as to what the seal may do. These interactions are new behaviours.

  • DO keep the seal under observation.

  • DO cease energetic swimming. Thread the water or breaststroke.

  • DO use your whistle.

  • DO splash at the seal when it is above the surface.

  • DO warn other swimmers in the water.

Our Organization offers these guidelines to avoid both accidents for swimmers and seals. Please report any such unusual occurrences to Our Organization to formulate best response to over friendly seals.

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