Small waves, calm, relatively warm, with little wind.

The sun was pushing through the clouds, forming those intense beams of filtered light to the horizon. Distant mountains shrouded in the mist.

A seal played with us at sea. He went beneath my board, back and forth and again, popping up his head and staring at me repeatedly. If I had reached down, below my board, I could have touched him. Then he dashed to another surfer and did the same, returning once. One of the surfers, a woman, squealed in delight. Everyone was engaged, hoping the seal would come to them next.

When the waves came, he used the momentum of the rolling water to propel himself into the air, diving into the wavefront again and again. Then there were two, playing in unison. I had tears in my eyes, salt water mixed with salt water. There is a connection I can’t explain, mammal to mammal perhaps, intelligent hunters who recognize when it is time to play.

We all know, as surfers, that if a seal is relaxed, playing, then there are no sharks around. If instead they pop their heads up, look around intently, take a deep breath and dart off down the shoulder of water along the beach, then we had better swim to shore too.