Scuba diver, 15, meets 'playful' seal off Isle of Man coast

A young scuba diver had an unexpected visitor on a dive off the manx coast

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A fifteen-year-old boy has spoken of his "amazement" after a wild seal befriended him on his first dive from a boat off the Isle of Man coast.

Underwater footage taken by the teenager's diving instructor shows five minutes of the 40 minute encounter.

Jamie Gallacher, 15, said: "I didn't know how to react but it was incredibly playful just like a big puppy. I feel very lucky."

The encounter happened in August during a dive close to the Calf of Man.

Diving instructor Michelle Haywood said: "I had my camera with me captured some incredible footage. Each time we thought he'd swum off, he came right back and swam around us like an excited little puppy".

"I was laughing so much I thought my mask would fill up. It is certainly an experience we will never forget."

According to the Manx Wildlife Trust, about 300 grey seals live near the island's coastline.

'Tugging our fins'

Marine officer Eleanor Stone said the the seals were "naturally inquisitive."

Grey seals

Grey seal lying down on beach

"They love to play but they are wild and should not be pursued or chased," she said.

It was the teenager's first dive from a boat and also his first from the location near to the Calf of Man, a small islet off the southern tip of the Isle of Man.

The King William's College pupil said: "I wanted to ask my instructor if this was normal but I couldn't with my mask on.

"I was surprised to see it but after a while it wasn't scary or intimidating at all - even when it nipped me.

"I've been told by divers who have done 300 dives that they haven't experienced anything like this and it was my first."

Mrs Haywood added: "We had only just got in when the seal approached us, tugging on our fins to get our attention.

"It is the sort of amazing encounter that most divers wait all their lives for."

The encounter happened in August, shortly before the breeding season.

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