Selkie (species)

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Selkies, also known as silkies, sylkies or selchies, are mythological creatures in Irish, Icelandic, Faroese, Norse and Scottish mythology that can transform themselves from seals to humans by shedding their skin on land.

Myth and history[edit]

The legend apparently originated in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, where "selkie" is simply the local word for "seal", where the stories are generally romantic tragedies; I.e. A human and a selkie fall in love, but after a while, the selkie becomes restless and decides to return to the sea. Sometimes the human will not know that their lover is a selkie, and wakes to find them gone. Other times the human will hide the selkie's skin, thus preventing them from returning to seal form. The word is also spelled as silkies, sylkies, or selchies. Selkies are sometimes referred to as selkie folk, meaning 'seal folk'.

The Grey Selkie of Suleskerry is a ballad typical of the former, while The Secret of Roan Inish is a movie telling the latter tale. Seal Child is a children's novel by Sylvia Peck which details a modern retelling of this myth. Selkie is a 2000 Australian movie about a teenager living a good life who starts growing webbing between his fingers and having dreams of the water, he becomes a seal when he tries to save a friend and learns that he is a selkie.


Selkies are able to become humans by shedding their seal skins on land and can revert to seal form by putting the skins back on when going into the water, and they should not be mixed up with Silkies (fictional ferret/cat people with exceptionally long, prehensile tails).

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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