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Meet the hitchhiking seals of the Thames! Puffed-out passenger hitches a ride with a paddleboarder

When you’re puffed out after chasing fish up and down the river, it’s nice to put your flippers up and just go with the flow.

This seal certainly thought so as it hitched a cheeky ride in the Thames.

The arrival of a passenger brought a smile to the face of the paddleboarder who had previously been travelling solo.

 Paddleboarders and rowers are increasingly turning round to see a whiskered face, as seals haul themselves up on to their craft

Sophy Aykroyd, a paddleboard coach at the Active360 club in Richmond, south-west London, witnessed the event. She said: ‘He sat on the board for quite a long time, enjoying the paddle – just curious. We could not believe it!’

Paddleboarders and rowers are increasingly turning round to see a whiskered face, as seals haul themselves up on to their craft. 

Joe Pecorelli, from the Zoological Society, puts this down to reduced river traffic during lockdown. 

He told London BBC News: ‘The river has perhaps become a more benign environment, with fewer motorised boats, and they are becoming more confident in that quieter space.’

The Thames is home to seals, harbour porpoises and occasionally dolphin whales.

Experts say seals often sunbathe on boats and that hauling themselves out of the water is a natural behaviour.

Experts say seals often sunbathe on boats and that hauling themselves out of the water is a natural behaviour

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