Elephant Seal Pup Crawls To A Woman's Lap; Makes Her Its Human Pillow

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One-month-old male southern elephant seal pups play in an instinctive way that mimics adults fighting later on in life on the Punta Delgada beach of the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina's Patagonia region, October 28, 2001. The Valdes Peninsula is home
One-month-old male southern elephant seal pups play in an instinctive way that mimics adults fighting later on in life on the Punta Delgada beach of the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina's Patagonia region, October 28, 2001. The Valdes Peninsula is home to one of the world's only permanent continental colonies of this species, with the rest on islands near Antarctica. The population swells to more than 40,000 in the season from August through November when the herds gather on the beaches to give birth and mate again before heading back out to sea. Reuters

In South Shetland, barren islands in Antarctica, an elephant seal pup, crawled out of the waters and waddled up to the land. Lea McQuillan, hotel manager in a cruise ship, was sitting down and resting when it crawled out. It snuggled up to McQuillan and used her as a human pillow. The seal weighed about the same as an adult male. It slept for a span of about two hours before it waddled back into the cold, freezing waters.   

According to the Daily Mail, McQuillan had gone to the Elephant Point on Livingston Island. She was accompanied by Helen Willcock, the doctor of the ship that she worked on. The two wanted to relax and stretch out their feet after staying in the cruise for a period of 14 days. 

The scene of the seal sleeping on McQuillan was captured by Roy Mangersnes, a wildlife photographer. He was hosting a photo expedition for WildPhoto Travel in Antarctica when he captured the beautiful image. 

Mangersnes said that McQuillan was not at all scared and that the cubs were curious but not threatening. He added that the cub, after smelling Lea's hand, decided to sleep on her lap and use it as a pillow. He explained that it did not take the seal much time before he boldly climbed into her lap and fell asleep. 

He added that the mother was not around the cub so there was no worry about anything. He explained that the cubs were still suckling and did not have any teeth. He added that the pup was enjoying some peace before he reached the stage of adulthood, during which time he would have to fight for his own future. 

Magnerses explained that people are forbidden from getting close to the wildlife in Antarctica. He said that in Lea's case, the seal had initiated contact and despite its size, was never a threat for her. Usually, the adult elephant seals grow up to a length of 20 feet. The adult seals have a weight of up to 8,800 pounds, while the young ones have a weight of about 130 to 175 pounds. 

Contact the writer: afza.kandrikar@gmail.com 

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