Scuba diving allows humans to go beneath the surface of the deep blue sea in order to understand a whole new world that lives within the ocean. People can get up close with exotic fish, coral, and undersea fauna that they might otherwise only see in pictures or aquariums.
But if they're really lucky, they might even have some close encounters with some of the sea's most majestic creatures! Such was the case for one experienced diver and his friend who had a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with some seals. They were even lucky enough to capture the moment on film!
Diving in the Isles of Scilly
Two unsuspecting scuba divers were in for the experience of a lifetime when they entered the chilly waters at the Isles of Scilly. Located off the coast of Cornwall, this archipelago's economy relies heavily on its production of cut flowers, mainly daffodils.
But the Isles of Scilly are a popular tourist destination in the U.K. and people go there to see much more than flowers. These scuba divers knew to look beneath the surface.
What Lies Below
Gary Grayson of Worsley, England is an avid scuba diver. He and a buddy decided to see what the Isles of Scilly had in store for them that day. The waters of these isles are often listed as one of the top places to go diving in the U.K.
One never knows what they might encounter below the surface. The Isles of Scilly are infamous for shipwrecks the tricky shorelines have caused throughout centuries, adding onto the list of what divers can explore.
A Surprise Appearance
When Grayson and his diving partner went beneath the water that day, it wasn't ancient wreckage that caught their eye. Indeed, there were unique flora and fauna to examine, but that wasn't what stopped them in their tracks.
Grayson and his buddy were taken by surprise when two Atlantic grey seals appeared out of nowhere. Some people might freak out at the sight since seals aren't always as friendly and docile as we make them out to be.
The Best Action Was No Action
Divers are taught not to disturb animals in their natural habitat, especially since the results could be more disastrous for the diver rather than the animal. When Grayson and his diving partner noticed the approaching seals, they did their best to remain completely calm.
Most seals have a reputation among divers for being curious and playful, but some have been known to get aggressive with humans that seem threatening. Grayson tried not to appear as a threat.
Remain Calm And Still
While Grayson and his buddy remained calm, the two seals began approaching them. They remained as still as they could but knew this would be a great experience to capture on film, so they took out their camera.
Seals are known for swooping in from behind or appearing in the middle of thick kelp forests, just like the one these divers were near. The divers kept the camera rolling to see what might happen next.
Going Into The Unknown
Nature is inherently unpredictable, especially when it comes to the ocean – the largest natural ecosystem in the world. There's still a vast amount of the deep blue that humans have yet to discover, so divers really never know what they're going to get every time they go into the ocean.
Gary Grayson is known for his diving videography but this time he was the one who got to have the experience of a lifetime.
The Footage Seen By Millions
Luckily, Grayson dove with a friend who was there to capture the entire encounter for him. Little did they know at the time, they would be filming incredible footage that millions of people around the world would nearly lose their minds over once it went viral on YouTube.
Miraculously, the seals swam closer and closer to the divers as they continued to film. So close, in fact, that the infamous video begins with a seal right next to the camera.
They Were Just Babies
These adorable seals continued to approach and it didn't take long for the divers to realize that these guys were mere pups. Once they recognized this, Grayson and his friend knew how important being still was in that moment.
They wanted the baby seals to feel safe and comfortable enough to stay lingering. Because they were young, the pups were likely more skittish and the odds of them swimming away were higher.
Warming Up To Them
The divers didn't want to miss out on an incredible opportunity to capture these wild animals up close. Luckily, it wasn't long before the seal pups warmed up to Grayson and his friend. The seals began encircling the divers, almost as if they were putting on a show.
Seals have an inquisitive and playful reputation. But what makes these particular pinnipeds especially peculiar is the fact that they each have their own personality.
Unlike Any Previous Dive
Most seals are generally curious and friendly creatures, otherwise, some are standoffish and skittish. Knowing this, the divers had to be cautious about what they were dealing with to protect their safety since it could've gone either way.
Even though they had plenty of experience under their belts, the divers were still apprehensive about the outcome of the encounter. Getting this up-close-and-personal with a wild sea creature wasn't something they'd experienced previously.
Just Like Puppies
The seal pups soon revealed themselves to be curious types. The more they encircled and closed in on the divers, the friendlier they seemed to become. The divers were likely relieved and excited to know it was turning out to be a positive encounter.
These seals were just like rotund water dogs. They even have adorable puppy-like eyes that lure you in to play. The divers couldn't have predicted what would happen next.
The Closest Encounter
Grayson and his diving partner could hardly believe what was happening to them. The seals were in such close proximity, that they were fully immersed in the moment. Seals don't typically open up so fast, as they too practice an immense amount of caution to protect their own safety.
But to the divers' shock, the seals swam right up to them as if they wanted to become friends! It was a rare moment that everyone around the world got to witness.
Meeting A New Friend
To the divers' surprise, the seals got so close that they started to interact too! One of the seals started nudging Grayson and it appeared as if he was trying to hold his hands. The seal was holding out his flippers like he wanted Grayson to reach out with his own arms so they could play "Ring Around the Rosie."
Grayson did at least shake the seal's flippers as they met face-to-face.
Letting The Seal Take The Lead
After Grayson "shook hands" with his new underwater friend, the seal held onto his arm with its flippers. Because they had never had such a close encounter like this before, Grayson and his buddy just let the seals take the lead.
They were unsure of exactly how to approach the situation since most scuba divers aren't avid animal trainers. Instead, Grayson continued to float still while the seal continued to rub its head and neck into his arm.
It Seemed Like Odd Behavior
Usually, when divers go out to sea with the intention of examining wildlife, they must swim for days with a pod of seals in order to gain the animals' trust. Within that amount of time, the seals must determine if the humans pursuing them are safe to approach.
This is why Grayson and his diving partner didn't make any sudden movements when they saw the seals. It was odd in the first place that they were being approached so soon.
A Possible Sign Of Aggression
A seal getting that close to a human so suddenly is usually seen as a sign of aggression. Thankfully, Grayson and his buddy handled it so well that the seals ended up wanting to play! After nuzzling Grayson's arm, the seal began play-fighting by nibbling at his suit.
Meanwhile, the other seal was comfortable enough around the humans to swim around them and mind its business. Perhaps it was looking out for its friend like Grayson's was for him.
Exploring A New World
These seals swam gracefully in the water, which only added to the illusion that they were content in the presence of these humans. Usually on land, they have to waddle around on their flippers and hop onto rocks or boats. But it's underwater where they're truly in their element.
After seal pups are born, they spend at least four months with their mother before venturing off. Perhaps these seals had finally left the nest and we're exploring their new world.
This Seal Didn't Hesitate
This playful seal pup obviously went against what was expected and swarm right up to Grayson. The creature immediately started sizing the diver up but once it realized Grayson was friendly, it didn't hesitate to see how far things would go.
There were clearly no boundaries for this seal. After the seal nibbled a little more at Grayson's suit and kept nuzzling its head against his hand, it ended up making a move no one saw coming!
Petting Like A Puppy
Grayson realized that the seal must have liked the feeling of being nuzzled. That's when he started scratching the seal's neck and head, just as if he was an actual canine puppy. The seal let Grayson continue to do this for a while.
For their part, Grayson and his diving partner couldn't believe their luck! It was certainly a diving trip that they would never forget. But what really made it unforgettable was what the seal decided to do next.
Interpreting The Signs
After the hand-to-flipper shake and the nuzzle session, the divers were unsure about how much time they had left with these majestic sea creatures. Moments like these were especially fleeting, so it was great that they were able to capture everything on film.
At any second, the seals could've decided to swim away but after everything that had already happened, things were apparently just getting started. The seal started making movements he wanted Grayson to interpret.
Grayson Couldn't Figure It Out
As Grayson continued to scratch its neck, the seal kept inching closer and closer to the sea floor as if it was trying to tell him something. It continued to nibble at Grayson's glove in an effort to get him to do what it wanted, but it was up to Grayson to figure out exactly what that was.
This went on for a few minutes until finally, the seal made everything clear.
He Finally Figured It Out
Eventually, the seal turned over on its back. At that point, it was obvious what the seal wanted Grayson to do. Apparently, Grayson's petting skills were so excellent that this seal wanted him to rub his belly!
It was amazing that this seal was exhibiting such qualities! This would be normal behavior for your average dog or cat, but the fact that a seal likes belly rubs too only goes to show how universal the feeling is among animals.
The Seal Was Loving It
Grayson's belly-rubbing skills were so good, that you can see the seal flapping his flipper over the diver's hand in approval. It was a darling sight to see, especially since the seal's flabby coat moved along with the waves.
The seal remained on its back for some time, clearly enjoying the feeling. If anything, it only made the seal more playful as he snapped back up to make another move!
He Wanted To Play Some More
After the seal decided it was done with its belly rubs, he swam back up to face Grayson. Grayson's hand moved underneath the seal's chin and began scratching. The seal apparently loved that too, as the video shows it smiling as it is happening.
But soon, the seal became more lively and wanted to play some more with its new friends. At that point, it began playfully nibbling at Grayson's glove and even had his hand in its mouth!
The Second Seal
In the video, Grayson looks at his friend with a smidge of concern on his face the more the seal began biting at his hand. Luckily, the bites didn't appear to forceful and it seemed the seal was just trying to play with him some more.
Grayson then decided to let the seal do its thing. Meanwhile, the second seal thought it was his turn to get some action and started sniffing at Grayson's feet.
Playtime Was Over
Eventually, the first seal grew tired of the fun and games. It was obviously grateful for the belly rubs but as the diver continued to pet its coat, the seal started to swim away. At that point, it's seal companion noticed and knew it was time to go.
The divers watched the seals swim away but were ultimately enthusiastic about the entire experience. Of course, they couldn't have predicted how viral the encounter would become.
An Incredible Diving Experience
Grayson's video soon gained international buzz and of course, he was asked about the experience. He told media outlets that he was "absolutely loving it" the entire time it was happening.
"I had seen other seals in the water but they just buzzed past us. None was as inquisitive as [this seal] was, and none as friendly," Grayson told the Manchester Evening News. The 55-year-old businessman had quite a story to tell.
"We Were In Their World"
Most people might not know how to react in such a situation, but Grayson and his buddy handled everything exactly as they should have. "We were told just to sit on the bottom of the kelp but the more still we were the more inquisitive this seal was because we were in their world," Grayson said.
Even though they tried not to seem threatening, their stillness apparently was a source of intrigue for the seals.
"I Have Never Known Anything Like That"
For his part, Grayson admits that as a seasoned diver, he has really never had an experience quite like what he did with the seals at the Isles of Scilly that day.
"The grey seal came across and had five minutes with me, kind of thing. Then another was climbing up my leg. I'm an experienced diver but I have never known anything like that. I've been all over the world, to Mexico and Cuba, to dive with great big mantras and sharks," he added.
The Experience Of A Lifetime
Grayson and his diving partner may have been a bit startled at first, but that's likely because they weren't expecting the seals to interact with them. "I'm not one to frighten easy," Grayson told M.E.N.
He added, "If the truth be told, I'm a bit of an [adrenaline junkie]. Before that, I was into sky-diving, I had done aerobatics. I tend to live life on the edge. But this was certainly up there with anything I have ever done."
These Fishermen Discovered Something Out Of The Ordinary On An Iceberg
Mallory Harrigan, Cliff Russell, and Allan Russell always loved going fishing together. The trio loved it so much that they even bought a boat together to start their own commercial fishing business.
Living in Canada, they knew what kind of fish they could catch and what the local markets and restaurants would be interested in buying. What they didn't know was what to expect when they began hitting the waters every day in hopes of a good haul.
More Than Just A Business
Cliff, Mallory, and Allan were more than just business partners. They were friends, and they would help each other during the longest days and hardest times. Their new business could have tested that friendship, but it never did.
Every day, after hours on the sea, they would come home with new bumps and bruises on their bodies. No one would complain, and no one would quit. They loved each other and were always excited to show up for the job the next day.
That Fateful Morning
On the morning that would change these friends' lives forever, Mallory was especially excited. She didn't know what fate had planned, but she had a good feeling about something and showed up early to prep the boat.
Once everyone was there, the trio went through their pre-launch check off list. It was imperative they have everything they needed with them on the boat. Having to travel back to shore after launching would cost them hours on the water.
Prepping the boat was the easy part. They liked to pass the time telling jokes and and stories. They may have been old friends, but every morning felt like a 10-year reunion.
The next part can be described as "the calm before the storm." The water was calm as usual as the boat headed a few miles off the Canadian coast. They knew the perfect spot to catch crab off of the Canadian coast.
Letting Out Their Lines
Once they reached their destination, the friends turned off the boat engine and let it idle. This spot was perfect and was always full of crabs. They dropped their lines and let the cages drag on the seafloor.
It was the end of crab season, and while the previous weeks had been fruitful, they were hoping to go out with a bang. Since starting their business, this had been their most successful year. Would this be their most successful catch?
The First Catch Was A Sign Of Things To Come
With the cages in the water, one of them steered the boat while the other two manned the lines, making sure they didn't tangle. They knew this routine like the back of their hands.
As the first cages came up they couldn't believe it. Their spot had paid off again and it looked like today was going to be their best day ever. They high-fived in celebration, emptied the cages, the prepared to do it all over again.
Moving To A New Spot
The day was going great. Allan, Cliff, and Mallory knew they had a chance to break their crabbing record. Finished at the first location, they turned the boat back on and set off for colder waters.
The further they got, they more dangerous things got. Colonies of seals could be seen resting on icebergs. Birds were nowhere in sight. But as beautiful and serene as the scene was, it was also filled with hidden dangers and surprises.
Iceberg, Straight Ahead!
Huge icebergs floated freely in the Labrador Sea. This was not the place to go on autopilot when fishing. One wrong turn could turn this fishing trip into the groups last.
Allan was on lookout duty when he spotted something in the distance on top of an iceberg. He pointed in out to Cliff and Mallory. No one could make out what the shape was. Mallory thought it was probably a seal sunbathing away from the colony.
Allan Couldn't Let Sleeping Seals Lay
Cliff fell in line with Mallory's theory. During their adventures together they had seen plenty of animals pop up in the ice waters from time to time. It wasn't anything strange, so why was Allan acting so weird about it?
He probably couldn't tell you why, but he did know something about what was on that iceberg kept eating away at him. He told his friends that it didn't move around like a seal and he was skeptical. They looked through their binoculars and couldn't help but agree.
Even though they knew they needed to keep fishing, curiosity got the best of the group. They couldn't take their attention away from whatever was stranded alone on an iceberg. They decided to move in closer.
As the boat got closer, the wind picked up along with the chill in the air. Then they noticed there was fur on the animal. Even scarier, the fur was wet. The poor animal must have been freezing! They decided until they knew what they were dealing with, their fishing expedition was on hold.
The friends approached cautiously in the boat. Not only did they not know what kind of animal they might have found, but they were going off-course and venturing into unexplored waters. Allan was convinced they were doing the right thing.
Cliff and Mallory weren't as sure as Allan was, but the friends agreed that they needed to investigate the situation. If it was an animal in danger, then they needed to rescue it. They couldn't live with leaving it to die on their consciences!
A Slow Approach
The boat moved through the water slowly. The friends watched over the sides of the boat for any unexpected dangers. Any large chunk of floating ice could damage the boat and the last thing they needed was to strand themselves.
The waves had picked up, too, making the boat move more than usual. Mallory urged the group to be extra careful. They may have been excited about what they were doing, but they still needed to keep their wits about them.
Choppy Waters And Wind Picked Up
Without warning, a strong gust of wind rattled through the area. This made navigation even harder. Even scarier for the group, this unexpected windy whipping made the iceberg move. How would the animal react?
Now that group had more than just ice to worry about. They were terrified the scared animal would jump off the iceberg from fear. Mallory kept her eyes glued to the animal. If the boat could just get a little closer she'd be able to identify what they were dealing with.
Chasing The Iceberg
The situation had taken a dangerous turn now that the team was forced to chase the iceberg. They weren't just concerned with their safety, but also the safety of whatever was pacing back and forth on the iceberg.
They had to move fast to keep the boat near the iceberg. At the same time, they needed to remain cautious about the water surrounding them. Making matters worse, the day was half over and they would start running out of daylight soon!
The Animal Began Taking Shape
They finally got close enough to the creature to start figuring out what it might be. They could see it had four legs and looked similar to a dog. There was no way this was someone's lost pet, though.
As they predicted, the poor animal was soaked with cold water and was shivering uncontrollably. Allan, Cliff, and Mallory knew at this moment that they needed to do everything they could to save this animal, even if it meant putting themselves in more danger.
The Animal, Identified!
After a few moments of disbelief, the friends realized they were staring at an Arctic fox! They didn't have time to figure out how it may have stranded itself. It was weak and there were birds starting to circle above it.
Not only was the fox in danger of freezing to death, but other animals were getting excited about their next meal. The friends jumped into action, desperate to make sure the little Arctic fox lived to see another day.
The Rescue Seemed Dangerous
With time running out, the group needed to work together to come up with a plan to save the fox. There wasn't a lot of time, and there was still one big question that needed to be answered.
Would the fox even trust humans with its life? There's no way of knowing how much contact this wild dog had previously had with humans. That meant despite their best intentions, there was a real possibility that they wouldn't be able to help.
Cliff, Mallory, and Allan needed a plan to lure the fox to them. First, they tried speaking quietly and holding out their hands to see if the scared dog would come to the safety of their arms.
The fox's first instinct was to run away. Of course, it had nowhere to go and ended up just staring at the strange humans trying to save it. It refused to jump to them, and they refused to leave.
Patience Is A Virtue
The waiting game was on. The fox showed no interest in the three friends. They continued to show interest in it though and they decided the best game to play was the long game.
Their patience was being tested, but they refused to give up. Finally, just as they were about to break, the fox stepped toward the boat. Would it take a leap of faith? Putting its trust in the hands of humans was looking like the only way to survive.
The fox got as close as it could to the boat. It wasn't strong enough to jump aboard however and looked to Allen for help. He gently picked it up and placed it on the boat.
Things still weren't alright. Allan and Cliff grabbed towels to dry the fox and keep it warm but were hesitant to handle the scared creature. One wrong move and it could attack. How long was this fox's trust going to last?
An Escape Attempt
Scared to death, the fox decided it made the wrong choice and jumped out of the boat without warning. Everyone was stunned as the wild animal raced in the water to get back to the iceberg.
The friends followed the fox until it ran out of energy. Allan gently picked it back up and placed it in the boat again. It scurried to a corner and stayed there, terrified of the situation it was in.
Back From The Brink
This time the team was going to make sure the Arctic fox couldn't get away. While Mallory was busy steering the ship back home, Allan and Cliff watched intently and waited for their moment to approach.
They knew if they couldn't warm the fox back up its body would go into shock. They looked around the boat, trying to find anything to make the little guy warmer and more comfortable. They never took their eyes off the animal, though.
A Warm Place To Rest
From behind the steering wheel, Mallory suggested that they find a way to give the fox warmer accommodations. Cliff and Allan could only find sawdust, which they thought they could use for filled as bedding.
While collecting the sawdust, they found a plastic bin to put it in. This would make a great bed frame! They packed sawdust into the bin, hoping it would act as insulation, then placed it in an area on the boat with the most sun.
Getting The Fox In Bed
Allan, who up to this point was the de facto animal handler, picked up the Arctic fox and placed it in the bin. In a matter of seconds, the exhausted fox was sound asleep.
While it was recuperating, the team continued to get back to the Canadian shore as quickly as possible. The fox was okay for now, but surely needed medical attention to make sure it would survive long term.
No Rest For The Tired
Still about 30 minutes from shore, Cliff took over driving duties from Mallory. He changed course, knowing they might not have 30 minutes. Then he hit a wave and the fox woke up.
It stared up from the bin, terrified and exhausted. Looking to calm the fox back down, Mallory suggested trying to feed it. Surely they could spare some of their fresh catch. A good meal could do wonders for the animal, if it was willing to take food from humans.
All Turf, No Surf
The fox was dry now, and the bin had indeed helped warm it up. Mallory offered the fox some fish and crab but it looked away, disinterested. There had to be something it would eat?
Mallory decided to look in the crews personal food supply. She found some Vienna sausages, which she soaked in water and put in a bowl in front of the fox. It sniffed the food, then scarfed it down like a ravenous animal. This was its first meal of the day, and possibly more.
Coming Back To Shore
The fox fell back to sleep after eating its meal. Shortly after, the boat began docking at shore. The noise ended up waking the fox back up. Mallory stayed near it, trying to keep it calm with the storm of noise around it.
Mallory spoke softly the to the fox. It wouldn't be able to understand what she was saying, but maybe her voice would help soothe it. She just needed to keep it calm until they were done docking.
Finding The Fox A Home
Safely ashore, the next decision the friends had to make was what to do with the fox. It was warm, dry, and fed, making this the last big thing to do.
True to her character, Mallory came up with the answer. She remembered there was an area near the docks that would be perfect to release the fox back into the wild. There would be no imminent danger and they could watch it safely reintegrate to its natural habitat.
A Room With A View
Not only was the fox's new location safe for it to re-enter the wild; it was equipped with a makeshift dog house! The structure was 10 minutes from the dock and very remote.
They searched the area for the dog house. They knew it was located on the bluffs, but were uncertain of its exact location. Cliff carried the fox the whole way, doing his part to keep it safe while the friends finished their rescue mission.
A Successful Rescue
It took a bit of time, but the friends found the fox a house. As they had done all day, they left the fox as much to its own decisions as possible. They placed the bin near the house and waited.
The arctic fox stepped out of the bin, shook itself off, and walked to the house. It sat down at the entrance and looked over its new home. At this moment, Mallory, Cliff, and Allan all knew they had done something amazing.