The glorious Isles of Scilly are just a hop n’ skip from the tip of Cornwall, an archipelago of 140 tiny islands, with a small human population on five of these. Famed for their subtropical climate and turquoise waters that are more akin to the Caribbean that Britain, makes it the perfect location to encounter, close-up, the graceful and playfulness of Atlantic grey seals.
We camped on the largest of the main islands, St Mary’s, over looking the ocean, but our seal trip set off from St Martin’s island, a shirt 15-minute boat ride away from St Mary’s main port. As our small tipper boat pulled into the bay it was clearly evident that although the island was only two miles long, St Martin’s has some of the most idyllic sandy beaches across Britain, if not the world.
With the sea temperature, even in August, only reaching about 15 degrees, we were strapped tightly from head to toe into not just one, but two wetsuits! Trying to manoeuvre ourselves in two wetsuits meant we humorously mimicked the somewhat cumbersome nature of a grey seal as it tries to wobble itself along a rocky outcrop….
With our snorkels and GoPros to hand, we waded into the water from the beach and hopped aboard a small yet high-powered dinghy that whizzed us around the rocky shores and coves to locate the seals. It wasn’t long before we encountered our first seal colony that was casually resting upon the rocks or plopped into the water, some even coming to investigate the new invaders!
After a second briefing from the eco-tour guides we strapped on our snorkel and mask and we too plopped ourselves quietly into the water. The double wetsuit kept you warm, but unfortunately quite buoyant at the same time, giving you little chance of impersonating the elegance swimming style of the seals. However, this didn’t matter as the best way to encounter seals is to stay calm and still in the water, simply float along and in no time they will come to investigate you. But don’t forget to keep looking behind you, as the seals often come to nibble on your fins as they did with us!
A wildlife experience I’ll never forget…
Watch the video of our Seal Encounter