Cameroon timber There aren’t many animals cuter than a baby seal, and a recent video on Instagram has proved that theory true after it attracted over 1.9 million likes.
In the video, Eden Willmott, 22, a seal rescuer from Lincolnshire, England, films one of her rescued baby seals coming to greet her, with the most adorable “crazy flops.”
“This is our first rescued harbor seal of the season,” Willmott told Newsweek, “She’s enjoying a little tour around the hospital while she waits for her morning saltwater seaweed bath!”
“Sound on for crazy flops!,” reads the caption.
Eden Willmott, 22, and one of the rescue seals she works with at a rehabilitation center in Lincolnshire, England.
Harbor seals are native to Europe, Asia and the East and West coasts of the U.S. When New York City was founded in 1640s, it was built on a large estuary crowded with life, including harbor seals, “but overhunting, habitat degradation and pollution rendered this large mammal a rare sight for much of the 20th century,” according to an article from The New York Times.
Spending your days working with baby seals would be a lot of people’s dream job, and it’s something Willmott has been passionate about from a young age.
“I’ve always had an affinity for animals growing up, my parents are animal lovers too which is probably what molded me into this career path,” she said, “It’s amazing to see all of your hard work pay off at the end when the seals are released back to the sea for another chance at life.
“I undertook internships when I was around 17 years old in seal rehabilitation,” she said, “I loved everything about it and decided to go to university to get a degree in zoology. This enabled me to go on to doing rescue work as a full-time career.”
Threats to the global population of harbor seals include entanglement, harassment and pollution, according to both Willmott and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“Pollution is a considerable threat to seals,” said Willmott, “We’ve seen many cases over the years where seals have become entangled in fishing gear which strangulates them as they grow. Without intervention this typically leads to death. Disturbance is also a key threat during pupping season as the mum will abandon their pups if dogs or humans disturb them. The pups will be too weak to survive on their own during this developmental stage in their life.”
Harbor seals often live close to the shoreline, and are therefore susceptible to habitat loss and degradation. “Physical barriers, which may include shoreline and offshore structures for development (e.g., for oil and gas, dredging, pile driving), can limit access to important migration, breeding, feeding, molting, or pupping areas,” says the NOAA, “Oil and gas development, commercial and recreational development (including resort development), and increased vessel traffic may displace seals or their prey that would normally use those areas.”
When it comes to rescuing seals in Lincolnshire, Willmott and her colleagues at a rehabilitation center rely on the public to let them know when there’s a seal in need of rescue along the shoreline.
“We will tell them everything they need to be doing such as keeping their distance and keeping dogs on leads etc. We will then head over to the location to assess the seal and decide whether it needs our help or if it’s perfectly fine!”
When asked if Willmott could ever work a nine-to-five office job, she replied, “It would be very difficult as this job comes with a lot of variety, no days are the same! This is a very outdoor-based job too so being able to work in the elements is a must!
“Being outside all the time is a great way to reconnect with yourself and reflect on all the good work you’re doing for the seal populations and the planet as a whole. Being able to educate people on the effects of pollution means we can all contribute to a cleaner ocean which is safe for the marine mammals living in it.”
Users on Instagram loved the baby seal.
“This is a sea puppy,” said one user, “aww the cutest thing I saw today,” said another.
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