Friendly seal tries to hitch a ride on a rower's boat in the Thames

Oar-some encounter! Friendly seal tries to hitch a ride on a rower’s boat in the Thames

  • Chris Van Hayden was joined by a friendly seal when rowing in the River Thames
  • The seal surprised the rower when he jumped onto his boat to hitch a quick lift
  • Chris, who was with friend Salvatore Chiocca, said the seal stayed for 15 minutes
  • Video footage, shared on Facebook on July 27, shows the unexpected meeting

This is the unexpected moment a friendly seal surprised a passing rower by jumping on to his boat and trying to hitch a ride up the River Thames.

Chris Van Hayden was out with his friend Salvatore Chiocca on the River Thames in London when a seal arrived and spent 15 minutes playing with the two rowers.

Video footage, shared on Facebook on July 27, shows the seal leap out of the water and fearlessly clamber on top of one of the boats.

Chris Van Hayden was left surprised when a friendly seal climbed on top of his boat and tried to hitch a ride up the River Thames

Chris was out rowing his with friend Salvatore Chiocca when the friendly seal began climbing on and off their boats for around 15 minutes

The seal then relaxes on top of the thin boat, casually gazing at the view while it sunbathes on the boat.

The person filming is heard laughing and saying ‘you must like me’, as the seal refuses to jump back into the water.

Chris, who is a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide, said the friendly seal ‘played around’ with his oar while climbing on and off the boats.

Posting the video on his Facebook page, Chris Van Hayden Tours, Chris wrote: ‘No, this is not sunny California under a few clouds, but London’s River Thames on an early July morning.’

Describing the encounter, he added: ‘This chap, spent a good 15 minutes with me and my rowing mate Salvatore Chiocca, climbing on and off our boats, allowing himself to be stroked and playing around with my oar. 

Video footage, shared on Facebook on July 27, shows the cheeky seal leaping out of the water and relaxing on top of the rowing boat

Chris Van Hayden (above), who is a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide, said seals are incredibly friendly and curious animals, but may sometimes get aggressive when feeling threatened

To my luck, just two days later I found a seal pup, happily basking in the sun, not too far from this spot.’

The Thames is home to both grey seals and harbour seals, who have been spotted as far up the river as Richmond Lock and Weir, but only harbour seals breed there.

The seal population in the Thames has been rising over the past few years, according to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

The seals can feed on more than 120 species of fish that live in the river, including two species of shark.

To feed, seals make their way from the Estuary upstream to the cleaner waters, around Richmond in west London, where there is less competition from other seals. 

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