It was just a few days ago at Gyro Beach when Danica Charlie went paddleboarding on the ocean with her family, only to meet a new friend.

“We were just minding our own business on the water and it pokes its head up,” said Charlie.

A baby harbour seal got onto one of the group’s paddleboard.

“Next thing I know it’s literally hopping on my mom’s board and it’s so fast and I can’t believe it even happened and then it hops off and we’re like ‘that did not just happen.'”

But the little animal wasn’t gone too long

“It followed us for about forty-five minutes and it was just hopping on and off, on and off, and it would not leave us alone and it was so cute,” said Charlie.

Anna Hall, a marine biologist based on southern Vancouver Island, says the chance encounter, though rare, makes perfect sense.

“It’s not uncommon for moms to leave pups for several hours and sometimes longer while they go on a foraging expedition. And youngsters are curious,” said Hall.

“It was a little baby and we figured its mother must be around somewhere too, so we kind of tried to get it to go away,” said Charlie.

But the adorable pup kept coming back, and Charlie admits she couldn’t resist her own natural instincts.

“I pet it, and it was smooth, cute and so friendly. You think of a little puppy. It was literally a little puppy,” said Charlie.

Charlie posted the video online where it’s garnered over one hundred thousand views, but not all who watched were amused.

“Some people were like, ‘why did you touch it like you’re not supposed to touch,’ I was like ‘I didn’t know, like, it was so quick I didn’t know what to do,'” said Charlie.

And that’s what motivated Charlie to agree to be interviewed by CHEK News. The baby seal eventually swam away on its own, but Charlie wants people to know exactly what to do if they encounter a similar situation.

“We really don’t want to touch the animals,” said Hall. “We really want to not interact with them and encourage them to go back to the wild, you know, allowing them to do things on their own speed if that’s possible.”

Hall added that touching wildlife could transmit disease and/or anger the mother. She says the main things to remember are to not touch, stay patient, and when in doubt seek help. Charlie says the remarkable encounter has better prepared her for the future.

“I’d definitely call someone who knows what they’re doing, I had no idea what I was doing,” she said.

The BC Marine Mammal Response Network is equipped to assist in encounters similar to Charlie’s and the baby seal. They can be reached at 1-800-465-4336.

Kevin Charach