Grey Seals Clap for Victory

Picture: Dr Ben Burville.
Grey seal

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Divernet Team

It took 17 years of scuba diving, but eventually naturalist Dr Ben Burville managed to capture on video the unprecedented sight of a male grey seal clapping its flippers under water to produce a noise like a gunshot. 

Marine mammals usually communicate vocally but, according to an international study based on the footage, wild grey seals also clap to warn off competitors and attract mates during the breeding season.'

Also read: Elephant seals dive asleep – and urchin death riddle solved

“The discovery of ‘clapping seals’ might not seem that surprising – after all, they’re famous for clapping in zoos and aquaria,” said lead author Dr David Hocking of the School of Biological Sciences at Australia’s Monash University.

“But where zoo animals are often trained to clap for our entertainment, these grey seals are doing it in the wild of their own accord.”

“The clap was incredibly loud, and at first I found it hard to believe what I had seen,” said Dr Burville, a visiting researcher at Newcastle University in the UK.

He had heard the claps before but never seen them, and captured the footage using a GoPro off the Farne Islands last October.

“How could a seal make such a loud clap under water, with no air to compress between its flippers?”

“Other marine mammal species can produce similar types of percussive sound by slapping the water with their body or tail,” said Dr Alistair Evans of Monash. “This is the first time a seal has been seen clapping completely under water using its front flippers.”

The high-frequency sound was loud enough to cut through any background noise and send a clear signal to other seals in the area.

Dr Hocking compared it to the behaviour of a chest-beating male gorilla, and said it conveyed two messages: “I am strong, stay away; and I am strong, my genes are good.”

Now that this social behaviour is known about, steps can be taken to prevent human noise pollution from disrupting it, say the scientists.

Their study is published in Marine Mammal Science and the clapping seal can be seen on YouTube.

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This week, it looks like DPV manufacturer ScubaJet has begun insolvency proceedings. PADI has distributed half a million dollars in their Project Aware campaign. Dorset coastguard have called off the search for a missing diver. And the Pearl Fleet has commented on a viral video of a shark-dive that didn’t go so well
https://taucher.net/diveinside-insolvency_proceedings_at_scubajet-kaz9246
https://divernet.com/scuba-news/conservation/padi-aware-distributes-500k-in-mission-hub-grants/
https://www.scubadivermag.com/raid-launches-ots-full-face-mask-programme/
https://www.scubadivermag.com/dorset-coastguard-call-off-search-for-diver/
https://divernet.com/scuba-news/health-safety/search-for-diver-off-dorset-stood-down/
https://divernet.com/scuba-news/health-safety/pearl-fleet-hits-back-as-maldives-shark-dive-slammed/
Diving Into The Darkness Link:
https://www.scubadivermag.com/affiliate/mzsd


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@emilyZA460
#AskMark hi! I was hoping you could help me understand the interchangeability of a DSMB and a simple SMB if I only plan to use it when I deploy it during my safety stop at 5 meters. I used the simple version for this purpose during my last liveaboard and despite occasionally having to reinflate at the surface due to some air escaping while being deployed underwater, it didn’t seem to be too problematic and so I was wondering if it’s necessary to have a DSMB for this purpose? The issue for me is that somehow I tend to end up misplacing my SMB quite often and so the price difference between the two makes it a more acceptable loss when it’s replacing the SMB regularly rather than the DSMB at double the cost
#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
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