When Kirsten Melin, coach at the Lymington Rowing Club, and her companion Andrew went into the water early in the morning on the 27th September 2020, they didn’t expect the unforgettable experience they would have that day. Rowing with a seal!
A curious and playful seal decided that morning to jump on and off the boat, and followed them along on the Lymington River.
The couple from Wales first spotted the seal in the Pylewell area of the river, where it started to swim around the boat in a playful way. After a couple of minutes it was courageous enough to board the boat.
Kirsten described the situation as follows: “The seal was really intrigued by us and seemed very friendly. It enjoyed sunbathing on the front of our boats and I think it would have happily stayed there all day.
(…) When it was time for us to head back we gently urged it off the deck and it then followed us up the river, swimming in the wake and playing in the wash from our blades.”
Rowing with seals along the German coast
Seals are living all along the North Sea, so you can also see them especially along the German, Dutch and Danish coast.
Here’s a map of sightings along the German coast.
When we rowed our RUBENETTI 2x along the German coast from Dagebüll to Föhr in 2020, we were also able to see some seals. Unfortunately, they weren’t really interested in us. Maybe I should not say unfortunately but luckily, as I have no idea what we would have done if one of them had entered our boat. It’s good know how to deal with bigger animal like seals s if you encounter them while you’re on a boat. Especially harbour seals are quite common and they are a protected species. Learn more about the “Agreement on the Conservation of Seals in the Wadden Sea” and harbour seals.
Friends in California confirmed that what happened to Kirstin is not uncommon. Rowing with a seal is something well known along the Pacific, where the rowing friends from the Santa Cruz Rowing Club can tell you more about their daily encounters with seals and sea lions. By the way, for years without any incident.
Credit: Kirsten Melin, Lymington Rowing Club.