Experts film grey seal clapping under the sea, making a booming sound as loud as a gunshot
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No fish required: Experts film grey seal clapping under the sea, making a booming sound as loud as a gunshot

  • Seals didn’t learn the trick for fish from humans – they knew how to do it already
  • Concluded they do it to warn off rivals and show off their strength to females
  • Dr Ben Burville caught the moment near the Farne Islands, off Northumberland

By Victoria Allen Science Correspondent For The Daily Mail

Published: | Updated:

Their clapping displays have entertained zoo visitors for generations.

Yet it seems seals did not learn the trick in exchange for a few fish from humans – they knew how to do it already.

Experts have for the first time filmed a male grey seal clapping under the sea, making a booming sound as loud as a gunshot.

Experts have for the first time filmed a male grey seal clapping under the sea, making a booming sound as loud as a gunshot

They concluded they do it to warn off rivals and show off their strength to females. 

Dr Ben Burville, of Newcastle University, caught the moment near the Farne Islands, off Northumberland. 

He said: ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could a clap be that loud under the water with no air? But of course seals’ flippers are incredibly strong.

‘It is almost as if this seal is saying “I’m the boss here” while telling females “aren’t I strong, aren’t my genes good”.’

The ‘gun-crack’ noise had been recorded among seals before but thought to be a vocal sound.

Experts concluded they do it to warn off rivals and show off their strength to females

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