Some of you may have seen the video doing the rounds this week of a very playful seal hitching a ride on the kayak of YouTuber TheKayakingkid. If you haven’t seen it, the clip is below.
I think I speak for all the kayakers in the team; John, Dave, Rob and myself when I say that to experience this kind of interaction close up and most importantly, on the seal’s terms, would make our challenge (and our lives!) complete!
But importantly it serves as a reminder as to why we’re doing this challenge. The UK’s seals are a vital part of the coastal ecosystem of the UK and they have been put under pressure from the fishing industry for years.
In 2014/2015 Sea Shepherd UK ran a campaign to protect Scottish seals from being shot by the salmon netters whose destructive practises have been affecting salmon stock for decades. Our campaign was a resounding success and the practise of salmon netting was halted in Scotland for a minimum of three years. It’s widely thought that SSUK’s actions have made the likelihood of the salmon netters starting up agin in the future highly unlikely.
The campaign came at a cost. One of our kayak challengers, John Legg was charged with recklessly endangering his own life by walking in front of a seal marksman who had a live firearm pointed at a grey seal (and had managed to fire one shot already at the seal).
The ensuing legal case was funded by SSUK and the aim of our challenge is to repay these costs so that the money can be put to better use protecting seals in other parts of the UK.