A ROWER has told of the magical moment a savvy seal hitched a ride on his boat.

Adam Bates, from Hanover in Brighton, was near Kingston Beach, Shoreham, when the surprise passenger popped up behind him.

The member of Shoreham Rowing Club said: “I heard a little splash and the seal’s head popped up then all of a sudden it just hopped on the boat.

“It was such a beautiful moment, really amazing. It was there for a few minutes.”

Adam had spotted the animal basking in the sun earlier while he was rowing on Monday afternoon.

He said: “I am not sure why it wanted to hop on the boat, maybe it was just curious, or maybe it just fancied a bit more time in the sun.

“It was a beautiful afternoon.

“The boat was a little unstable, I was a bit worried about falling in, but it didn’t tip the boat too much.

“It actually kept the boat pretty well balanced.”

Wildlife photographer Sean Stones happened to be on the beach taking photos of the seal when the moment happened.

Adam said: “I think the photographer lives just opposite the beach so it was great he was there to capture such a wonderful moment.

“I have not met him but I love the shot.

“I have heard of it happening to boats in the Thames but I’ve not heard of it happening down here and it’s certainly not happened to me before. I imagine it’s pretty rare. I am no expert on seals but it was really wonderful.”

The seal has reportedly been spotted several times in the Shoreham area over the last two or three weeks.

On the National Trust website is says: “Grey and common seals can be seen all around the UK coastline.

“Coastal walks are a great way to see seals, but you can also view then on a boat trip.”

Despite Adam’s rare experience, they do warn seals are easily scared, especially by dogs, so its important to keep a safe distance where possible.