THESE seals may look cute and cuddly but the public are being reminded to take extra care around these wild mammals in the water.
Langstone Harbour is home to a range of wildlife, including a population of harbour seals.
They generally keep a distance away from boats and humans in the water, but there have been reports of seals starting to approach people.
Ian DuCane, who has sailed and rowed in Langstone Harbour for more than 50 years, was kayaking in the harbour with his wife on Sunday when a pair of seals approached them.
The seals became within touching distance to the pair and at first appeared playful, before one of them began to bite at the kayak and repeatedly swim alongside the boat while showing its teeth.
Mr DuCane said: ‘This particular seal became bolder until its actions became intimidating and we paddled into shallow water to keep it away.’
He added: ‘Although we do not think the seals were being aggressive it is always good to remember that these are large, very powerful and unpredictable wild animals and one should not fall into the trap of seeing them as cuddly creatures.’
The Solent seal population has grown over the years and there are approximately 25 individuals known in the area.
Langstone Harbour deputy manager James Clark offered advice with dealing with seals in the water.
He said: ‘If you pass slowly by them, then they are usually fine but they seem to get flustered if you approach them quickly.
‘If you maintain on course and go slowly by, they are normally quite happy and try not to pay them much attention.’
Tim Ferrero, from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, said: It is about treating the animals with respect and not a tourist attraction.
‘The general rule is not to approach them but they may approach you. If they do, keep calm and just enjoy the experience.’