Two paddle boarders had the surprise of their lives when a cheeky seal decided to hitch a ride while they enjoyed the sunshine in a UK harbour.

Rachael Towers and Sam Ball were paddle boarding around Poole Harbour in Dorset last weekend, when ‘Simon’ decided to swim over and join in with the fun.

Britain is home to around 36% of the world’s seal population of grey seals and if you would like to spot one the Norfolk coast, Cornwall and the Scottish coast will likely be your best bet.

As a general rule, you shouldn’t get closer than 20 metres to a seal unless they approach you.

The National Trust guidelines state that seals can be curious and friendly towards humans, but you should never approach one in the wild - let them come to you.

Seals are generally gentle creatures unless they feel threatened, moving slowly and being gentle can help to keep the seal calm and lead to an incredible experience in nature.

Which is exactly what happened in Rachael’s case.

Leigh Journal: Rachael hopes to be reunited with Simon the seal soon. (Daily Echo)Rachael hopes to be reunited with Simon the seal soon. (Daily Echo)

Rachael, a recruitment advisor from Dorchester, said: “We took our paddle boards out at Hamworthy and went across to Arne and we could see the seal in the distance, popping up and swimming around.

“There were people swimming near it and I was like ‘ah I don’t want that on my board’. I was petrified of it.

“Then he popped his head out of the water and just made a b-line towards me and hopped up on my board.”

Rachael’s fear of the seal quickly subsided when she realised how friendly it was, the pair even nicknamed him Simon.

She said: “He just sat there, more than happy, having a little sunbathe. Then he popped up on my friend's board and loads of people on boats were stopping and taking pictures of us.

“He was really chilled and friendly.

“I was really, really scared and then I realised I didn’t have a choice and he was coming up whether I wanted him to or not.

“He was such a show-pony, he was doing little tricks in the water and it was really cute.”

Rachael hopes to be reunited with Simon in the future and said: “He was around us for about half an hour, swimming with us and getting up onto our boards, there were some people in the water too that he went and swam with.

“Some of the people on the boats said they’d never seen anything like it, there were a few seals out but none were interacting with humans - we were really impressed.

“Next time we’ve got some nice weather we’re going to head out that way again and see if we can find him.”