Swimming with Seals

Andrew Wallace
24.04.18 02:32 PM Comment(s)

The Pembrokeshire coast is home to large number of seals who come to breed and give birth to their young.

It is possible on rare occassions that you may find yourself with a few unintended swim buddies whilst sea swimming in Pembrokeshire!

Swimming with seals is a fantastic experience, but there is a protocol to be followed should you be lucky enough to see them in the water.

A seal lazing in the sun in Pembrokeshire
Seals can often be seen at various locations oalong the Pembrokeshire coast

Seals are intelligent and inquisitive animals and will often come over to you to check out the strange creature swimming in their ocean, usually not coming closer than 20m or so, but sometimes as in the video below, they will come right up to you.

It's important to remember though that they are large wild animals, especially the male bulls, which can be eaily 6 feet in length with powerful bodies that propel them through the water at speed.  If one approaches you, it is important to remain calm and not to make any sudden moves or behave in any way that the seal may find threatening.

Seals may come to look at you when you are swimming
A seal checking out a swimmer

They are not naturally aggressive towards humans and divers often account of how they swim up to them underwater and even nibble on the ends of their fins.  However you should never approach them on purpose and never try to touch, hold or feed them.

Seals are very powerful animals and the males will often be more unpredictable and could inflict a nasty bite if they feel threatened. The advice is to generally stay well clear of the males as it is possible they have a group of females nearby and may mistake you for another male.

Never approach pups in the water or on the beach either. This will greatly stress the pups and will also cause the mother to stay away.

Sea swimmer and seal in Pemberokshire
Seals often follow swimmers out of sheer curiosity

In short, be sensible, and while we do not suggest to go looking for seals to swim with, sometimes they find you!  If you find yourself being watched, remain calm, respect the fact you are in their domain and swim slowly and methodically, maintaining your direction but making sure you move away from them, keeping your distance from any seals that may be on the shore.

The chances are they will want to check you out and swim around you and under you, for no other reason than enjoyment!


Go with it, enjoy the moment and then leave them be.