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Watch This Adorable Harbor Seal Hitch a Ride on a Kayak

A group of kayakers paddling in the bay near San Francisco got a surprise when a young seal hopped on one of their kayaks. While wildlife officials warn people to keep their distance from animals, this video shows that that wasn’t so easy.

Here’s the clip:

Hollis Callas shared the video on her Instagram. She says the animal hopped on the back of the boat of the person she was paddling with. You can see both of their surprise when the animal struggles to get up on the kayak.

While the little harbor seal is cute, most comments suggest it may have been swimming for its life. Seals and sea lions will sometimes jump on boats, surfboards, and other objects to avoid orcas or sharks in the water. A quick search shows the internet is full of similar videos with small animals trying to escape waters. However, some say the seal may simply be looking for a place to rest.

While it’s not the kayakers’ fault the animal is so close, California and U.S. laws say you can’t really do anything but sit and watch. According to media reports about similar incidents, seals are protected by the state, and it is illegal for people to pet seals or interfere with the situation. 

So, what do you do if a seal tries to hitch a ride?

According to an article from National Geographic, sitting still is best. If you can, try paddling away slowly. Don’t worry if the little pup falls off. They’re used to the water.

Harbor seals are common, especially along the West Coast. The National Park Service says if you’re lucky to see some, try not to make your presence known. The animals can panic easily. The NPS suggests people stay at least 300 feet away from any marine mammal, whether in the water or on land.

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