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The Southern Elephant Seal Affair


A touching video has resurfaced of a woman hoping to get some great photos of elephant seals while visiting South Georgia Island on the Gold Coast, a popular eco tourist destination, she got more than a “Kodak Moment” as a souvenir.

The video was originally uploaded to YouTube by yolondria4 back in February 2011 is titled “Flirt sure la page magnifique”  also made its way to Vimeo (uploaded by Bob Dobalina) and continues to elicit uncontainable “awwws” from people around the world.  Requests to use the footage of the southern elephant seal affair for animal rights films, a TV show in Japan and other documentaries continue to pour in, making this a must see!

Here Is The Lucky Lady And Her Southern Elephant Seal Affair (Rated G)

While elephant seals can be aggressive, particularly territorial and hyper sensitive during mating season, this woman is only the victim of infatuation. A brief interspecies tryst caught on camera.

Commentary about this video ranges from the expected melted heart, to the outraged few who feel a line was crossed or danger was eminent, to both the woman and the elephant seal.  Over on Vimeo, Barbara Hernandez raised alarm over the dangers in the clip of being crushed by another seal or the potential for bacterial infection, explaining that excrement in the sand is also on the seals mouth, thereby being transferred to the woman’s mouth.

Overwhelming consensus echoes the opinion of Mo Jeffries comment who wrote, “Ms. Hernandez, wild animals are dangerous, but so are people, and when we let our guard down for a moment we may experience something miraculous,” and thanked the videographer for the all day “perma smile” this clip induced.

elephant seal video

Photo from Wikimedia, 1983-(Mirounga leonina) harem on a beach of the Rallier du Baty peninsula (Kerguelen Islands)

Elephant seals are protected by law under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (both northern and southern species) since they were once hunted to extinction for their blubber, a fat that is naturally rich in precious oil. The total population of the southern elephant seal has been labeled as “stable” with at least 600,000 seals.

South Georgia Island is home of the largest populations of the southern elephant seal, a different extant species than the northern elephant seal, accounting for half of the entire population. South Georgia is part of a chain of islands commonly referred to as the “Sandwich Islands” (and Falkland Islands), and is currently part military-part ecological reserve. The island can only be reached by ship, and South Georgia is considered uninhabitable by humans for the extreme Antarctic conditions (as you will notice by the large penguin population in the video).

In the early 1900’s South Georgia was a major international whaling and seal hunting mecca, much different than its purpose of tourism and preservation today. The notable Australian environmentalist and Chief Commissioner of the Climate Commission, Tim Flannery, described the old whaling facilities as “putrid” whose “vapors (resembled) the pong of bad fish, manure, and tanning works mixed together”.

seal hunting

S. Georgien, circa 1882
By Dr. K. Schrader (chief scientist) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Flannery described the working conditions as dangerous as well, noting that “a rotting whale could fill with gas to bursting, ejecting a fetus the size of a motor vehicle with sufficient force to kill a man”.

Feature imageby:  Mirounga_leonina.jpg: Butterfly Voyages – Serge Ouachée derivative work: Ilmari Karonen via Wikimedia Commons.




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