Seal pup shows researcher quickest way down a slope; thankfully there’s video

Watch as a young elephant seal learns a valuable lesson in physics.


Elephant seal pup rests at the feet of a researcher, moments before rolling down the knoll.

One issue an elephant seal must contend with while resting on land, apparently, is a lack of tools with which to disrupt gravity.

The accompanying footage shows a southern elephant seal pup basking atop a slope strewn with rocks, near the feet of a researcher. The seal sniffs the researcher's boots, and determines that it's safe to nap. But the pinniped has erred, having positioned itself horizontally at the crest of the slope, like a log or a wheel.

A slight blubber shift ensues, eyes widen, and the result is an uncontrollable tumble to the flat area below.

"This is what happens [while] being too curious," stated the Elephant Seal Research Group, which shared the clip this week on Facebook, crediting Anna Agostini for the footage.

The group, which studies the elephant seal colony on Sea Lion Island in the Falkland Islands, assured that the well-cushioned critter was uninjured.

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But followers of the post were nonetheless sympathetic, echoing "poor baby" sentiments while widely sharing the clip because of its amusement value. Perhaps the best comment was this, from David Betney: "That look before it rolls off screams, 'Save me, human! I am betrayyyyyed!’ "

The Falkland Islands elephant seal population is concentrated mostly at Sea Lion Island at the southern fringe of the Falklands. Pups are born from September to late October, after which they begin to learn life lessons on their own, as cows and bulls have left the breeding site.

Consider this, for the young pinniped, a valuable lesson in physics.

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