There’s an entire fascinating world to explore under the ocean, which is why water activities such as scuba diving are so appealing to a lot of people. People who enjoy being in the water and exploring their surroundings will tell you there’s nothing else like it.
Part of the appeal of diving is that you can never really know exactly what you’re going to experience as you first get into the water. We’re about to meet a diver who had a once-in-a-lifetime encounter on what seemed like an ordinary outing.
Gary Grayson Is An Experienced Diver
As an experienced diver and a videographer, Gary Grayson has certainly seen his share of amazing things over the years. One experience was particularly unexpected, and it involved an incredible interaction with an Atlantic gray seal.
Gary’s encounter with the seal left him awestruck and his video of the event quickly went viral, with people all over the world fascinated by it. That’s not hard to believe, because Gary’s chance encounter was so extraordinary, as you’ll soon learn.
England’s Isles Of Scilly
Gary Grayson is an adventure-seeker and diving enthusiast from Worsley, England. In 2014, he decided to go on a trip with some friends from the diving club where he’s a member.
The group traveled to the Isles of Scilly in 2014. This is a group of islands off the Cornish coast in southwest England. The archipelago is known for its sandy beaches and lush foliage, and there’s even a 17th-century castle tower for visitors to explore.
A Variety Of Wildlife
It’s quite a trek to get to the Scilly Islands. Visitors can either arrive via boat, small plane, or helicopter. But the trip is worth it! In fact, AFAR Magazine called it “Britain’s Most Beautiful Hidden Secret” in 2018.
The archipelago is home to a lot of different wildlife, such as seabirds. Underwater, divers can expect to see many different species of fish as they explore the area’s shipwrecks.
Grey Atlantic Seals Also Live In The Area
Beyond the diverse population of sea birds and fish, there are also some mammals who call the Scilly Islands their home. Bats, hedgehogs, shrews, and more are commonly sighted in the area.
Grey seals are also natives to the islands. These seals, also referred to as “horseheads,” “true seals,” or “earless seals,” are found on both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. Gary and his diving buddies were going to have a very unique encounter with a grey seal on this fateful day.
On this particular day, Gary and his diving partner disappeared under the water’s surface as they ventured out to explore. What they saw completely took them aback — they suddenly found themselves face-to-face with a pair of Atlantic grey seals that appeared out of the depths.
These seals can be rather large, and with any wild animal, it’s impossible to predict their behavior. But Gary and his friend were experienced and knew how to react to their unexpected visitors.
Were They In Danger?
Scuba divers, or anyone who spends time around wild animals, are taught not to disturb the creatures. Although seals are known to act playfully, they can also become aggressive if they feel threatened in any way.
And some of their “games” can be dangerous for humans, particularly when they’re fed or petted. Some seals will start playing biting games, which can be quite dangerous to the humans they’re interacting with.
Out Comes The Camera!
As Gary and his scuba diving partner wisely stayed calm and still, the two curious seals came closer to investigate. Being a videographer, Gary knew that this encounter could yield some really great, once-in-a-lifetime footage if he was able to capture the interaction.
So he quietly took out his camera and started recording, not having any idea what was going to happen next with the seemingly friendly pair of grey seals.
Capturing It All
Gary and his friend had been approached by the seals as they swam through a kelp forest. While seals are known to frequent these thick underwater forests, it wasn’t any less surprising to the men when they were approached at such a close distance.
Fortunately, Gary’s friend knew how to operate the camera and was able to capture their amazing encounter. Pretty soon, the entire world would get to see footage of their wildlife encounter, but at this point, there was no way they could have known how thrilling things were about to get.
The Curious Seals Were Still Young
The now-viral video shot by the men that fateful day stars out showing one of the seals right next to the camera, giving the audience a good look at the sea creatures.
As stated earlier, eastern Atlantic grey seals can grow to be quite large, with males reaching more than seven feet long and weighing between 370-680 pounds! Females are smaller. The seals that had surprised Gary and his diving buddy were much smaller than that, meaning they were young.
The Pups Could Get Skittish
Once the divers realized that their seal visitors were just young pups, they knew that it was especially important to stay calm and still so as not to frighten or startle the animals.
Young pups are more likely to be skittish and Gary didn’t want them to take off and end their interaction early! So he and his diving partner continued to stay calm, with minimal movements that might frighten one or both of the seals away.
Becoming More Comfortable
The experienced divers were excited to capture such amazing footage of their once-in-a-lifetime adventure with the wild seals. And it seemed that the seals must have felt the same way because they began warming up to Gary and his friend.
As they became more comfortable in the divers’ presence, the seals began acting increasingly playful. They even started circling the men in a friendly, inquisitive way! Their individual personalities were starting to show through.
Still An Unpredictable Situation
Although most seals are known to be friendly around humans (unless they’re provoked or sense that they’re in danger), they’re still wild animals. And considering that these two grey seals were still pups, they were even more likely to be skittish and behave in unpredictable ways.
And despite the fact that Gary and his friend had plenty of diving experience between the two of them, neither had ever had anything like this happen to them! This interaction was way more up-close-and-personal than any they’d had with wild animals before.
Playful And Curious
It was clear from the very beginning of the underwater interaction that the seal pups were extremely curious. As they got closer to the men and even started to circle them playfully, they continued to warm up and seemed to become pretty comfortable around the humans.
Many people compare seal pups to land dogs, due to their playful natures and even those large puppy-dog eyes. Even so, Gary and his friend still didn’t have a clue how this encounter would turn out.
The seal pups were so close to Gary and his diving partner that they couldn’t even believe it. They were glad that they were recording all this wildlife action on video! The seals seemed to have become so comfortable around the men that it was almost like they wanted to be friends.
And as they continued to feel safer around the humans, they swam closer. Gary and his friend could scarcely believe what they were experiencing.
Saying Hello, Up Close And Personal
The seals moved ever closer to the men as they playfully swam in circles. Gary was stunned by what happened next. One of the young seals approached and actually seemed to reach out with its flippers. It even nudged him!
Gary decided to go along with what the seal seemed to be suggesting, and he reached his own human hand out and shook the seal’s flipper! It was seal-to-human contact!
An Unexpected “Handshake”
After they “shook hands” as if they were greeting each other at a party, the seal seemed as if it didn’t want to let go of Gary’s hand. Instead, it held onto the diver’s arm with its flippers. Gary let the seal call the shots and went along with it.
As Gary remained still in the water, the seal began rubbing its head and neck on his arm. The men were really unsure what to make of this unexpected behavior.
Something Strange Seemed To Be Going On
Typically, it takes days (or more) for humans to gain the trust of wildlife. With seals, a diver should expect to spend several days with a pod of seals before the animals will begin to trust them.
So it seemed quite odd that these two young seals had become comfortable with the men so quickly, let alone the fact that they were brave enough to physically interact with the divers. One has to wonder, were the seals being friendly or was this a sign of aggression?
Were Things About To Take A Turn For The Worse?
While there are no hard rules to interacting with wildlife, a seal that gets as close to a human as these ones were with Gary and his friend could very likely be exhibiting aggressive behavior.
Fortunately, the experienced divers knew that they’d have the best outcome if they remained calm. And that tactic certainly seemed to work, because after nudging Gary’s arm, one of the seals started play-biting at his wetsuit. The other seal continued to swim in close circles around the men.
Out On Their Own Adventure
Gary and his diving buddy marveled as they watched the seals gliding effortlessly through the water. After all, anyone who has seen a seal waddle around on dry land might be surprised to see how graceful they are in their own element under the water’s surface.
Given that the pups seemed to be so young, it was possible that this was one of their first adventures without their mother! Typically, seal pups spend about four months with their mother before going out on their own to explore.
Getting Even More Playful With Gary
After being put at ease by the divers’ calm demeanors, the playful seal pup grew even braver and more forward with its interactions with Gary. First, it was the “handshake,” then nuzzling its head on Gary’s arm. What would happen next with this seal that seemed to have no fear of humans?
For a while, it continued rubbing its head on Gary’s hand and kept up the friendly and playful nibbling at his wetsuit. And then, it went a step further!
Just Like A Puppy Dog
By now, Gary had been interacting with the playful seal for quite some time and he’d figured something out: that the seal was enjoying the encounter. It really seemed to like the feeling of having its head rubbed, since it kept nuzzling Gary’s hand and arm.
Gary decided to try something daring and he began patting and scratching the seal’s head, almost like it was a regular Labrador Retriever or any other “land canine.” This went on for a while, and don’t forget that it was all captured on video!
Reading The Seal’s Body Language
The “friendship” between the scuba divers and the seals had developed so quickly that Gary couldn’t believe his good fortune. It had been magical to interact with these friendly wild animals in such a close and personal way.
Gary and his friend were not about to forget this day anytime soon, especially because of what was still to come. The seal started making motions and Gary thought it almost seemed like it was trying to communicate with him.
Message From A Seal
There was no telling how much more time Gary and his diving buddy would get to spend with the seals. Even if the sea creatures suddenly had a change of heart and swam away, the divers were certain that their underwater adventure was one to cherish forever.
Fortunately, the seals weren’t ready to take off just yet. Gary continued to pat the one seal’s neck, and as he did so, the creature kept biting gently at his glove. After a few minutes of this, a lightbulb went off in Gary’s head.
Gary Finally Pieced Together The Clues
Aha! As the seal continued to try and send a “message” to Gary, the diver suddenly had a pretty good idea that he knew what the gentle creature wanted. The seal turned over onto its back, exposing its tummy just like a dog would!
Gary knew then that the seal wanted a good old-fashioned belly rub and he was more than happy to indulge it! He was having such an amazing interaction with the wild creature, he could hardly believe it was real.
It was very clear that the seal was loving every moment of the belly-rubbing that Gary was treating it to. Gary must have wondered whether this was the first time the seal had gotten a belly-scratching from a human!
The belly-rub went on for several moments before the seal suddenly made a move and swam back up to Gary’s face. What was it trying to communicate to him now, he wondered?
… And A Chin Scratching
After several minutes of getting a belly-rub, the seal decided to try something else. It swam back up to Gary’s face, practically begging for a chin-scratching from his new diver friend.
In the video footage of this incredible wild animal encounter, it appears that the seal is smiling widely during the chin-scratching session. And at that point, the second seal seemed to want to get involved in this fun playtime.
The Other Seal Was Also Playful
As the first seal continued to play with Gary and give his gloves and hands friendly little nibbles, the second seal decided to come over and it started sniffing Gary’s feet. He was now having playtime with not one, but two grey seal pups!
Playtime can’t last forever, though, and eventually, the first seal started to swim away. The second seal followed suit, leaving their human friends behind in the underwater kelp forest.
Gary’s Video Went Viral
As expected, the divers’ video of their incredible seal encounter soon went viral and Gary was contacted by different news outlets to talk about the experience. In an interview with the Manchester Evening News, he confessed that he “was absolutely loving” every minute of the experience.
“If the truth be told, I’m a bit of an adrenalin junky,” he continued. “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.
Truly A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity For A Diver
Although Gary Grayson had been scuba diving all over the world — from England to Mexico and Cuba and beyond — the businessman feels that getting this level of interaction with a wild animal was one of the most amazing experiences of his life.
“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.” he said.
Millions Of Views Worldwide
Gary and his friend weren’t the only ones who were blown away by their unique and unexpected encounter with the Atlantic grey seals that day.
The video they took of Gary playing with the seal has been viewed almost 16 million times on YouTube, with many thousands of likes. And that’s hopefully not the last we’ll hear from Gary, as he said in an interview that he was planning more dives.
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 Weary
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 crew’s 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.