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00:48

Grey seal caught clapping for first time in the wild

United Kingdom, Near Farne Islands
February 04, 2020 at 12:42 GMT +00:00 · Published

After 17 years spent trying to catch a glimpse of a seal clapping its flippers in the wild, seal diver Dr. Ben Burville, a researcher at Newcastle University, has captured the special moment underwater in footage released on Monday.

Whereas captive animals are often trained to clap for human entertainment - this grey seal is seen doing it freely in a natural environment, making this a special moment previously unseen in the wild. The footage was filmed near the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland.

These marine mammals primarily communicate vocally, and make percussive sounds, such as slapping water with flippers or tails at the surface, involving only one flipper at a time. However in this footage, the grey seal is seen clapping flippers no less than seven times. Scientists believe male seals clap to ward off competitors and to attract mates.

The video is part of an international study led by Monash University in Australia, and has been recently published in the journal Marine Mammal Science under the #ProjectGrypus, the world's largest video archive of underwater grey seal behaviour.

00:48
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Mandatory credit: Ben Burville @Sealdiver

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Description

After 17 years spent trying to catch a glimpse of a seal clapping its flippers in the wild, seal diver Dr. Ben Burville, a researcher at Newcastle University, has captured the special moment underwater in footage released on Monday.

Whereas captive animals are often trained to clap for human entertainment - this grey seal is seen doing it freely in a natural environment, making this a special moment previously unseen in the wild. The footage was filmed near the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland.

These marine mammals primarily communicate vocally, and make percussive sounds, such as slapping water with flippers or tails at the surface, involving only one flipper at a time. However in this footage, the grey seal is seen clapping flippers no less than seven times. Scientists believe male seals clap to ward off competitors and to attract mates.

The video is part of an international study led by Monash University in Australia, and has been recently published in the journal Marine Mammal Science under the #ProjectGrypus, the world's largest video archive of underwater grey seal behaviour.

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