VIDEO: How to Cuddle with an Elephant Seal

Once in a great while I come across something so profoundly touching that I am compelled to share it. I was astonished by a video of a woman interacting with an elephant seal in Gold Harbour on remote South Georgia island, located in the South Atlantic off the east coast of South America. In the video, she sits on the ground next to a seal; the animal gradually creeps closer and cuddles up to her, repeatedly reaching up to touch noses. It is the purest example of trust and affection between humans and animals I have ever seen. The video was removed just two days later and the owner’s YouTube account was closed, to the consternation of all who saw it and those who had not yet seen it but had heard the excitement over the footage. Later, it reappeared, posted by a different user. That account holder eventually had to take it down due to copyright infringement issues, but now it has reappeared in several YouTube videos, thus I can once again feature it here. I have no idea how long it will stay up, but for the moment I hope many people take the time to watch.

Commenters on the original YouTube video were split in their opinions about the woman’s actions. Some pointed out that an elephant seal can be aggressive and weigh up to 6,000 pounds, while others objected more vehemently, arguing that this type of interaction irrevocably alters the natural state of wild animals. Although I agree that we should never try to initiate this type of behavior, I also believe that animals – especially mammals – crave affection. In my opinion, if the animal initiates contact, interaction is acceptable. I do wonder about the original video. Was it removed because of the controversy (commenters in social media venues can be brutal) over her actions? Did the tour company find out about the footage and ask her to remove it? I guess we will never know, I am just grateful it’s back.

104 thoughts on “VIDEO: How to Cuddle with an Elephant Seal”

  1. Just FYI, the woman in the video is a marine biologist – she obviously knows what she’s doing and the correct way to interact with these animals and not get mauled. Truly beautiful.

      • I am amazed at both of them. I love her amazement when she mouth’s “Can you see this”? What a moment in her life. I myself, would love to touch one and see how soft they truly look. That baby sure loves to cuddle up and it seems the baby is doing the baby/mother meet and greet with smelling each others’ mouth for their wee kisses.
        Truly a remarkable experience for us the watchers and the woman who experienced this love fest.

          • I loved the video. I too want to do something different with my life. I am 46 though and work for a state agency. I hope to work with animals and help rehabilitate them. Thanks.

  2. I am a diver and have often had close encounters with California sea lions. Many times they approach playfully, grab onto a swim fin, blow bubbles, hover upside down or present their backs for a good scratching. They like the roughness of my dive gloves. We need to remember that we are a part of God’s creation and it is ok to interact in a safe and sane way with animals who, even though wild, sometimes want interaction. I see nothing wrong with this interaction as long as the seal initiated contact (which it did).

  3. I posted the video at YouTube and I think I was the second person that posted it. At first it was automatically banned by YouTube’s software as “copyright infringement.” I contacted YouTube by email and it was reactivated until a day or two ago. Now it’s been officially banned by a complaint by “Amazing Nature Videos.” I don’t know who these people are or why they complained but it’s now banned. I was even contacted by someone named “Julie” that wanted to know more information because she was interested in putting it on a National Geographic website called “Caught in the Act.” Of course I told her I didn’t film it and didn’t know who the photographer was or who the lady in the video was. At any rate, I was very disappointed that it was banned. Most of the comments were positive comments.

    • Hi All: I find it really strange that someone wants to bury this video so
      badly. There’s got to be more to the story, but I doubt we’ll ever know what
      it is. I’m just glad the site I’ve linked to still has it up.


Leave a Comment