by Pinniped Phocoid, legend among seals
Now why on earth would anyone write a Guide Entry about the reproductive practices of Phoca Vitulina? Well, as it happens, a significant number of Researchers have both begged for an insight into Pinniped's legendary success with the ladies. Readers are warned that this piece contains quite a lot of grunting and heaving blubber, plus a few sharp bites.
OK, listen up you lot. Loads of turgid, wordy, academic stuff has been written on the mating behaviour of seals. If you bothered to read such rubbish, you'd come away thinking we were just animals, heaven forfend. Whereas of course seals are among the most sophisticated and sexually irresistible creatures to be found anywhere in h2g2.
Oi! Wake up and pay attention! If you put your mind to it, even YOU could successfully mate with a delightful specimen of Phoca Vitulina, in all of her dark-eyed, quivering glory. All you have to do is follow Pinniped's Proven Formula for the Perpetuation of your Genetic Material. That and put enough fish in the bucket at the foot of this page.
Now, those academics are gonna try tell you that female seals are totally submissive creatures. They'll claim that a few dominant males have the run of the harem, and that most of the rest of us count ourselves lucky if we get as much as a whiff of pheromones before having a chunk bitten out of our hind flippers.
Well, duh. It's maybe still like that on the foreshore in the Orkneys, but modern seal living is a bit more cerebral these days, thank you very much. Today's Miss Seal knows just where she's going. She can think for herself. She exercises choice, and she won't just roll over for the traditional model of grizzled bulk and flatulent experience. Most of all, she expects to be treated like a lady.
If you do this properly, you could just about go round the calendar, up to your chins in rapture. But as a wise old walrus once said, there are a few key rules to the Seal Deal, and you'll never stoke 'em if you broke 'em. You ready then? These are the facts that you must know :
#1 - Know your Season
The experienced girls are gonna pup some time in the autumn, and everyone's biology, including the newbies', will kind of magically synchronise with this. Pups are a bit of a pain, and sophisticated menfolk have nothing to do with them, but at least you can't mistake the visual cues. Ball of white fuzz with two limpid black blobs in the forehead. You see one, that means that mother and the rest of the colony are going to be on heat again in six to eight weeks at most. Mum'll be suckling now, disinterested and probably aggressive, but if the little bugger's getting in the way you can always try barking at it in a Canadian accent. That usually induces a satisfying level of blind terror.
The nearer the pole you go, the later the season. If you put your mind to it, you can do Europe south to north from about July to November, then get swimming and do the Southern Hemisphere from February to May. If you happen to be an anthropomorphised avatar rather than a biologically-authentic seal, then this is pretty easy. You just are where you claim to be at any given time, plus you can indulge in a bit of cross-species activity without anyone minding too much. But a couple of words of warning : Phoca are susceptible to canine distemper, so doing it (literally) doggy-fashion is a tad unkind. And, if you are an avatar, a round-the-calendar otarine sex-habit may not be particularly helpful viz-a-viz those horrible nightmares where you think that you've woken up human.
#2 - Know your Basics
Phoca do it two ways round, in the water (exquisite and intimate, but with a tendency to be a bit quick) or on land (usually lacking in grace; almost always lacking in seclusion). There's no good going for the former unless you're fit. If you are, and if she's up for it, this is definitely your best chance of spreading your seed without getting mangled by some irate bull. Don't expect anything too drawn out, but it can be incredibly romantic, twisting and taking flight in the sun-dashed water.
On the foreshore (and assuming you haven't so far won a harem to yourself) you're certainly taking a big chance. There isn't much privacy here, and somewhere not far away there'll be a guy twice your weight who resents your audacity very deeply. Kinda makes for a thrill, though, provided you don't end up with your throat ripped open. On a more prosaic note, remember that a lot of these girls are up here on the beach precisely because they're sick of being pestered in the water. They're still going to need wooing and winning.
#3 - Refine your Technique
To get their attention on land, there's really no substitute for getting up on your front flippers and bellowing a lot. Many seals (quite properly) find this behaviour demeaning and unpleasantly redolent of our naff Californian cousins, minus the beach-ball. Swallow your pride, guys. It really seems to get the fair sex going, although it does also make you kind of conspicuous to the overgrown psycho who thinks she's all his.
If you play this game well, your girl will slip into the water alongside you, where your relatively safe and in control (except for the odd marauding killer-whale, depending on location). You might have to deliver the odd nip or headbutt to some loser who's been tagging along a few waddles behind you, but basically she's yours, once you get this far.
Don't expect a partner for life. She won't remember much of this by next year; not even by tomorrow, maybe.
Female Phoca become sexually receptive around two years of age, so under-age sex doesn't exactly come into it in the seal world. Kinky variants are entirely a matter for your own discretion. Homosexuality among males is pretty well authenticated, and cool between consenting partners, but you're on your own if you set out to bugger the big guy with the harem.
#4 - Know When to Move On
After making their seminal contribution to the continuation of the species, smart seals don't hang around. The faux pas in respect of the droit du seigneur is only the half of it. The little lady, once impregnated, usually proves to be a bit of a cow and will quite probably bite bits off you quicker than he will. Strange attitude, but what the hell? You've got another colony to adulterate, thirty miles up the coast. Go on, my son!
#5 - Miscellaneous Helpful(?) Facts
a) Those who participate in seal sex can sometimes find the whole experience psychologically disturbing. We include a few calming excerpts from Miss Silkie's famous column in IceStyle magazine :
Dear Pinniped : Don't worry, the profound sense of post-coital emotional attachment that you describe is perfectly normal. If it persists for more than, say, a couple of minutes, you should seek vetinary advice.
Dear Finola : Don't worry, falling asleep during the act is fairly commonplace. (I assume that we are talking about the beach here. Be careful not to drown yourself, my dear). Maybe it would turn out to be more memorable if you tried being a little more selective. And do make an effort to stay awake if being attended to by the big guy, as many of his ilk have a tendency to roll over and squash you.
Dear Scout : Don't worry, you'll get over this. I agree unreservedly that he's a sick little pervert. But I'm sorry to have to tell you that there are some vestiges of factual accuracy in all of this. Try to face up to that, and think of another reason why it's completely unsuitable for the Edited Guide.
b) It has been noted that Pinniped has presented something of a male-oriented view. When challenged on this, he pointed out that he couldn't recall talking to any of them. We sent the copy to the Weddell, hoping for a female contribution. She remarked that this ought to convince the magistrate, and passed it on to her solicitor.
It says in one of those learned academic papers, courtesy of the internet, that "males are probably promiscuous and possibly polygamous, which means that they have sexual intercourse with two or more other seals at once". You betcha. Maybe not literally at once, but in fairly short order anyway. This is what you should be aspiring too, you red-blooded specimen of phocoid manhood. (That fish for me? Don't mind if I do...)
Happy Hunting, you Guys!