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Selkies and Wereseals

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"Selkie" by wolfanita
Used with permission.

"Once a Selkie finds its skin again, neither chains of steel nor chains of love can keep her from the sea."

Selkies (also known as silkies, selchies, and seal wives) are mythological creatures that are found in Faroese, Icelandic, Irish, and Scottish folklore. Traditional selkies can become human by taking off their sealskins and return to seal form by putting the skin back on. Stories concerning selkies are often Shapeshifting Lover romantic tragedies. Sometimes the human will not know that their lover is a selkie, and wakes to find them gone. Other times, similar to The Swan Maiden, the human will hide the selkie's skin, thus preventing them from returning to seal form. A selkie can usually only make contact with one particular human for a short amount of time — seven years, at most, and often less — before they must return to the sea.

In modern Speculative Fiction, the depiction of seal and sea lion shapeshifters varies. Some are called Selkies and correspond in varying degrees to traditional folklore. Others might be called wereseals. Sometimes seal shapeshifters incorporate features inspired by werebeast, sea witch, and werewolf lore. On rare occasions, the name Selkie will be applied to something other than a seal-shifter, however, it is still normally used for something water-related.

For more information, see The Other Wiki Selkie article.

May overlap with Sweet Seal. Related tropes include Our Mermaids Are Different, Our Werebeasts Are Different, Animorphism, Water Is Womanly. See also Unscaled Merfolk.

Not to be confused with the Webcomic Selkie, or one of the races of the Final Fantasy subseries Crystal Chronicles. Or with selfies.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Torchwood comic Captain Jack and the Selkie features a Selkie. Here, a Selkie was a seal-like alien from another planet. It could control the weather and disguise itself as a human with a person's skin. Captain Jack Harkness found a Selkie who was the last of its kind on its dying planet. Jack took pity on the creature and took it with him to Earth. On Earth, it became part of a Scottish myth of an enchanted seal that protected its Seal Island home.
  • The Girl from the Sea centers around the romance between a selkie and a human in Nova Scotia. Keltie, the titular sea girl, wears a seal skin but with a lover's kiss can become human and live on land. She chooses to give up her sealskin willingly to Morgan so they can date, but putting it on for any reason after that forces her to return to the sea for seven years. As it later turns out, she's not the only selkie-turned-human living in town.
  • Providence by Alan Moore spends much of its pagecount highlighting the social, cultural, and mythological context and background from which H. P. Lovecraft crafted his Cthulhu Mythos. When protagonist visits Salem, MA (here revealed to be the underlying model from which shadowed Innsmouth was conceived) he mistakes the hybrid Deep Ones returning to the sea as seals, highlighting the resemblance that story's shocking twist bears to the Selkie myth.

    Fan Works 
  • Fair Vote (The Dresden Files) is about a runaway wizard apprentice, George Saga, who, in the process of disentangling himself from a star-crossed selkie, ends up lost within the dark alleys of Miami politics.
  • Fisherman's Knot (Gravity Falls) involves an original selkie character named Nuala who helps Stan and Ford on their journeys, as well as another selkie that lives, against her will, in Boston.
  • Is maith an scáthán súil charad (a German Harry Potter fanfic): It's revealed that there is a separate bathroom for female pupils, where the stained-glass-window doesn't contain the picture of a mermaid but that of a selkie. Myrtle (who is not yet a ghost at the time) flees there to escape her tormentors and cries seven tears into the pool, which causes the selkie to change shape, from seal to human. Hilarity ensues.
  • Pokémon Uranium has a Fairy/Water hybrid called Selkid, whose name is an obvious reference to Selkies seems to be based more on mermaids or sea nymphs.
  • Spellbound (Lilafly): Sabrina's canonical devotion to Chloe is explained by her being a selkie whose coat is held by Chloe's mother. She's eventually freed, after Hawkmoth tries to akumatize her using her coat, hurting her badly in the process, and the coat is retrieved in order to purify it.
  • There's More Magic Out There: Alya is a fox selkie that can transform when putting on her fox skin. Her sister Nora is a bear selkie. Their mother is a selkie, but lost her powers after the girl's birth father stole her skin and forced her to marry him. She managed to escape with her daughters and married her current husband Otis, who she had two human twins with.
  • Haara encounters one in Vow of Nudity (who even commands a posse of polar bears and saber-tooth tigers!)
  • CG artist WancozoW depicts a woman preparing a seal costume to be worn much like a Selkie.
  • Miraculous Monsters (Miraculous Ladybug): Nadja Chamack is a Selkie who's coat was taken by her ex-lover when she escaped from him. She currently can't get it back since she is pregnant with Manon, so she instead makes a deal with the demon Tikki to get it back, or rather with Tikki's apprentice, nine-years-old demon Marinette.

    Film — Animation 
  • Song of the Sea: Selkies are distinguished from normal seals by the white seal skins that they shed to transform into humans on land. Saoirse can't speak and slowly falls ill without her seal skin, which her human father hides because he doesn't want to lose her the way he lost her selkie mother. Near the end of the film, she sends all the fairies home across the sea with the titular Song of the Sea, echoing The Legend of Chekhov told by Ben.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Ondine, the woman that Syracuse caught in his net is believed to be a Selkie and the film explores Selkie mythology.
  • Invoked in Rob Roy, when Rob's wife Mary tells him about a sex dream she had involving a Selkie.
  • The 1994 John Sayles movie The Secret of Roan Inish tells the story of a family descended from selkies. It is based on the novel The Secret of Ron Mor Skerry by Rosalie K. Fry.
  • The Australian film titled Selkie depicts a young teenage male moving to a coastal town with his family. After he starts growing webbing between his fingers, having dreams of the water in the bathtub, and becomes a seal after diving into the sea to save a friend, he learns that he is a Selkie.
  • Hallmark made a movie in 2001 titled The Seventh Stream: A grieving Irishman falls for a stranger with a special gift reminiscent of a Celtic legend.

  • In Against the Tide by John Ringo, selkies are used with tongue-in-cheek humor, as the fantasy counterpart of Real Life U.S. Navy SEALs. In the book, selkies performed commando-style beach infiltrations.
  • A selkie plays an important role in the book Meermonster (translated "Lake Monster") from the Dutch Children's book series Alfie the Werewolf (Dolfje Weerwolfje) by Paul van Loon. In the story, the protagonist finds a Selkie and sets out to return the creature to its home in Scotland. It is mentioned several times throughout the story that Selkies can turn into humans, however, this particular selkie turns out to be a special kind that eventually transforms into the Loch Ness Monster.
  • Tanith Lee wrote a dark take on the legend in her short story "Because Our Skins Are Finer," the story of a cold-hearted trapper who bargains to return a beautiful pelt to its owner's grieving mother.
  • George Mackay Brown's novel Beside The Ocean Of Time also involves a young man falling love with a Selkie, and the hiding of her sealskin to keep her from returning to the sea.
  • The Brides Of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan refers to selkies as "sea wives". On Rollrock Island, all the women are sea wives. The witch Misskaella has the ability to turn seals into incredibly beautiful women. She decides to provide this service to the men of Rollrock Island for a high price. Soon, all the men want their own sea wife, and no longer want human women. The families begin killing girl babies so that the sea wives won't have any competition.
  • In Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee, one of the protagonist's friends is a selkie, and the dangers of letting one's skin fall into the wrong hands are discussed.
  • In Juliet Marillier's Child of the Prophesy, Darragh is turned into a selkie by the Fae.
  • In Julia Golding's children's books Companions Quartet, the selkie is a companion species, and the minor character Arran is a selkie.
  • The Dragon Knight series has Sir Giles, a selkie knight.
  • James A. Hetley's Stonefort novels have a family of characters with the hereditary ability to transform into seals.
  • One of the main supporting characters in Jane Johnson's Eidolon trilogy is a young girl selkie called She Who Swims the Silver Path of The Moon (Silver for short) who becomes close with the main hero, Ben Arnold, when he rescues her from the evil Doddman's pet shop.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series:
    • The Serpent's Shadow features a group of selkies in a cameo as benign water fey creatures. With their way of life endangered by social and technological progress, things were looking bleak for them; then Peter Scott helped ten young Selkie men acquire brides (by somehow finding ten honest, clean-hearted girls among the streetwalkers of London), as well as acting as an intermediary to build houses for the girls and ensure they're well-provided-for in mortal coin. In return, the Selkies provide Peter with concentrated magical power upon request.
    • Selkies, or more accurately the Selch, also show up in Home from the Sea, in a much larger role. The main character has to marry a Selkie to fulfil a bargain her family made centuries ago.
  • The Enchanted Files: In Diary of a Mad Brownie / Cursed, selkies exist in the Enchanted Realm, and have the traditional selkie feature of appearing to be seals who can remove their skins to assume a human form. It's also noted that a human woman can summon a male selkie by shedding seven tears into the sea at high tide. Angus has to hide the skin of one in order to make a bargain with her so she'll take him across the Shadow Sea once her skin is returned.
  • Selkies also appear as one of many varieties of "changed" human in Ken MacLeod's Engines Of Light trilogy.
  • William Meikle's short story, "The First Silkie" appears in the Celtic Myth Podshow's Midsummer Holiday Special.
  • The Folk Keeper, a "young readers" novel by Franny Billingsley also uses this myth powerfully.
  • Watcher in Juliet Marillier's Foxmask is a descendant of a selkie mother and a human father.
  • In the fantasy book A Gathering Of Heroes by Paul Edwin Zimmer, the Sea Elves can turn into seals. It's very likely a reference to the Selkie myth.
  • "Gentle Nerandi": The title character is a selkie. As the narrator explains, selkies can change between human and ocean forms, and hiding their ocean skin while they are in human form will prevent them from returning to the sea.
  • Guardians of the Flame: "Silkies" haul the guide boat of Ganness Pride when the party first arrives aboard the ship in Pandathaway. They're pulling chains, and Karl hypothesizes they were coerced somehow as it seems like they'd be able to just swim away.
  • In Harry Potter, selkies are merpeople, or at least the particular subspecies of merpeople that lives in Scotland. They do not seem to have any connection to seals.
  • Helen Dunmore's Ingo has many similarities to the Kelpie myth. Set in the UK, it follows the story of a girl and her encounters with the merpeople, who is half-human and half-seal. Certain people have an affinity for the ocean (or 'Ingo'), and can learn to breathe water, or even turn into a mer-person themself. The tragedy comes from the fact that the girl's father, who they thought died at sea, actually left his land family for the ocean, and the girl must choose whether she'll do the same...
  • Herbert, a character in Eva Ibbotson's Island of the Aunts, is one, as is his mother. They spend the book in seal form, until magical creatures are being taken from the island and someone accidentally touches a knife to Herbert, triggering his transformation. The transformations here are triggered involuntarily- they can only change shape when touched with cold steel or if someone cries seven teardrops on them. They can apparently stay in whichever form they prefer, as Herbert is something of a Love Interest for Aunt Myrtle, but eventually he decides to go back to the sea and go with The Kraken and his son on their journey.
  • Ursula Vernon's short story "Jackalope Wives" adapts the myth for the American southwest by exchanging seals for jackalopes. In an additional twist, it's customary to burn the skin of a captured jackalope wife, thus forever locking her in human form. Because the skin is still connected to the creature, it causes her unbearable pain. One young man relents partway through the procedure out of pity and has it pointed out that capturing someone to be an unwilling wife is cruel, to begin with.
  • In the Jane True series by Nicole Peeler, the main character is the adult child of a selkie and a human man.
  • Juniper Sawfeather: Echo of the Cliffs has June's parents' friend Vanessa, who is secretly a selkie. Her late husband, Lonnie, stole her sealskin to force her to marry him and live far from the ocean. Now that Lonnie is dead, Vanessa has regained the ability to transform. She still lives most of the time as a human, but she bought a house by the sea so she can talk to other seals.
  • At the end of the fantasy novel Kitty and the Midnight Hour, there is a mention of a wereseal. This mention is expanded upon in Kitty's House of Horrors, where the heroine meets a wereseal. He was a normal human until he was infected with a disease by a bite from another wereseal, must transform during the full moon but can transform at other times, has a Healing Factor, and has some degree of human intelligence in the other form but is basically an animal. A short story set in the same world also includes a selkie, which seems much more like the kind typical to Shapeshifting Lover stories.
  • The Mermaid's Daughter: While Kathleen is researching her family history on Inis Mór, she meets a selkie who draws her attention to the grave of three of her ancestors and tells her how she can contact the sea witches who transformed Fand into a human. He proves he's telling the truth about himself by pulling Kathleen overboard from the ferry and then turning into a seal when he hits the water.
  • The Saga of the People of Laxardal: Hrapp has turned into a draugr (a malicious undead) after his death, and has killed or scared away everyone trying to live on his farm. Hrapp's brother-in-law, Thorstein, intends to take over Hrapp's farm and travels there on a ship with all his family and belongings. As they come near their destination, they are troubled by strong winds and run aground on a rock. While they are waiting for the tide to set the ship free, an unusually large seal appears and continues to circle the ship. Its flippers are unusually long, "and everyone aboard was struck by its eyes, which were like those of a human." The weather is worsening, until the storm capsizes the ship, drowning everyone, and only one man survives to tell the tale. The suggestion is that the seal was the ghost of Hrapp, and it was him who summoned the storm so that nobody would take over his farm.
  • In "The Lion in His Attic" by Larry Niven the main character is suspected of being a werelion, until it's noticed he never eats red meat, preferring fish. Because he's a were-sealion.
  • In the last of the five short stories in the anthology Love Is Hell entitled "Love Struck" by Melissa Marr a teenage girl walking along a beach accidentally steps upon a pelt of a selchie. The selchie falls in love with the girl but at first, she doesn't return his love. The girl must ultimately make the decision to free the selchie because of his increasing longing for the sea or to keep close the selchie she now loves.
  • One of The Magic Treehouse books featured the two child protagonists meeting a selkie. Despite the protagonists being normal humans, they were allowed to transform into seals via sealskin as well.
  • Robert Holdstock's novel Merlins Wood, contains a fantasy short story, The Silvering, in which the human protagonist is transformed into a selkie.
  • In the Merry Gentry series, a selkie named Roane Finn is the lover of Merry Gentry, who is a part human part fey princess who is hiding in Los Angeles in self-imposed exile from the Unseelie Kingdom. Roane Finn had his skin taken away from him, but after sleeping with her (because of fertility powers or something, various characters gain abilities after sleeping with her. Also this is Laurell K Hamilton we are talking about) he regains his skin and can transform into a seal again.
  • In Tom Clancy's novel Net Force, a female assassin uses the name "The Selkie" as her underground cover name. She is of Irish heritage.
  • In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novels, selkies and Roane are two fae races. The selkies' tragic origin story appears in one volume. The Roane were the original race, being fae who could turn into seals at will and had the gift of prophecy. Merlins, humans with fae ancestry, were told by Eira Rosynhwyr, one of the firstborn, that if they killed the Roane and took their skins they could gain the Roanes' power for themselves. They did so, but their children were horrified by it and murdered their own parents then took the skins to The Luidaeg, the firstborn fae who was mother to the Roane and prepared to offer their own lives to her in order to avoid her wrath falling upon anyone else. Instead, she took pity on them and bound the skins of her own children to them to make them the first selkies. In The Unkindest Tide, October's Blood Magic is used to attach the selkie skins to them and changed them all fully into Roane, ressurecting the race.
  • The Catherynne M. Valente book The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden includes a story of a female satyr who acquires a male selkie's skin, and then acquires the selkie as a lover.
  • Discussed and perhaps subverted in Outlander. A chieftain's daughter is arranged to be married but disappears at the last moment. Attempts to find her yield rumours that she fell in love with a dark-haired dark-eyed "silkie" and has gone to live with the seals. By the time the couple is located, she's happily pregnant. Interesting as it is set in Period Scotland, yet the character speculated to be a selkie is a man, for once.
  • In Kiersten White's Supernaturally and Endlessly entries in her Paranormalcy trilogy, there are selkies named Kari and Donna who eat food at a diner and drive a car in their human forms.
  • The Petaybee series by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough employs the selkie myth in a futuristic setting. The Shongili family uses genetic engineering to create a selkie (Sean). Sean's kids are natural-born selkies as well.
  • Rain of the Ghosts, set in the Caribbean, has Aycayia, who becomes a beautiful woman by removing her manatee skin. After seeing her, the protagonists look up various mermaid legends and are encouraged by the parallels to the selkie. She also has similarities to the sirens, able to hypnotize people with her beauty and singing. Unlike either, she was originally a human who was put under a curse.
  • At least one tale about selkies is included in Scottish Folk Tales by Ruth Manning-Sanders.
  • Sea Change, by Aimee Friedman is about a girl who comes to Selkie Island during the summer after a drama-filled year. She meets Leo, who is a selkie.
  • Seal Child is a children's novel by Sylvia Peck which details a modern telling of the selkie myth.
  • David Bischoff and Charles Sheffield wrote the novel The Selkie, a modern treatment of the selkie legend.
  • British fantasy author Susan Cooper has written both a picture book and a novel featuring selkies. The picture book, Selkie Girl, recounts a traditional selkie legend from Ireland. The novel, Seaward, features characters who turn out to be selkies.
  • In Selkie Girl by Laurie Brooks, the main character Elin Jean has had webbed fingers her whole life. She finds out that her mom is a selkie. Elin then becomes a selkie as well.
  • Terry Farley wrote Seven Tears Into The Sea, a modern and slightly different selkie tale for teenagers. It is a teen romance novel following the story of a young girl who returns to her hometown in search of a selkie she encountered seven years earlier.
  • A.E. van Vogt's SF novel The Silkie features genetically modified people who can transform into aquatic, seal-like creatures or into living spaceships.
  • The Sleeping Dragon by Joel Rosenberg briefly mentions silkies, also referred to as were-seals.
  • In Song of the Dolphin Boy, Finn learns that his mother, Sylvie, was a kind of selkie who could turn into a dolphin. According to Finn's father, most selkies are seal people, but a minority are dolphin people. Sylvie mysteriously vanished when Finn was two. She was caught in a fisherman's net while in dolphin form. Her husband tried to free her, but he was too late to save her life. Because of his selkie ancestry, Finn can swim through the ocean as quickly and easily as a dolphin.
  • The Star Trek: Titan novels include a Selkie character, Aili Lavena, who was a former lover of Captain William Riker. Note that "Selkie" is a term used by humans for a race which is amphibious during its breeding stage (when humans and other offworlders tend to meet them), before shifting to a fully aquatic phase. These Selkies and their home-world of Pacifica are key in the novel Star Trek: The Next Generation - Losing the Peace.
  • Mollie Hunter's novel, A Stranger Came Ashore, has a character named Finn Learson, a Tall, Dark, and Handsome young man who turns out to be the Great Selkie, lord of all the other selkies. He has his eyes set on Elspeth, the prettiest girl from the local village; Elspeth's little brother Robbie, however, doesn't trust Finn and decides to uncover his true identity to save her...
  • In Anne Bishop's Tir Alainne trilogy selkies are a member of the Fae race who must help witches avoid the mass murdering black inquisitors in order to stay alive.
  • In Mildred Downey Broxon's fantasy novel Too Long A Sacrifice, the female protagonist Maire ni Donnall has an encounter with a male selkie.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: Shapeshifting sea peoples are a common encounter. Most take the form of seals, but others are known that turn to dolphins, whales or fish. They are always called Selkies, nevermind that "selkie" just means "seal".
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's novel The Tower At Stony Wood, a character is revealed to be of selkie origin when she regains her former shape by donning the seal suit she has made.
  • Uist Skerrie The Inheritance, by Ellen S. Cartwright involves an island in the Chesapeake Bay where descendants of the Uist Islands in the Hebrides off Scotland live on in both Selkie and peacekeeper roles as a young doctor receives her birthright in a legacy filled with mystery, romance, and suspense. Selkie legend and modern science coexist with a constant struggle for protection against mainland intrusions and curiosity.
  • In Vampire High, selkies are a type of vampire that can turn into an otter, and enjoy playing water polo.
  • In the fifth book of The Wardstone Chronicles, the protagonist is forced to separate a beautiful selkie from her ageing husband. In the series, selkies age very slowly, and are considered bad luck or are taught to be prostitutes.
  • In War of the Dreaming, selkies are the chief mooks of the forces of evil. In a reverse they are humanoid seals who wear human skins in order to pass, skins they cut off human corpses. Selkies refer to the skins as "jackets," and they can be made from any species' flesh. Weirdly enough, this is also played for comedy: high-ranking selkie switch skins so often the lower ranks are perpetually confused about their identities.
  • The book Water Shaper by Laura Williams McCaffrey is based on some myths about selkies.
  • American author Christina Dodd published a romance novel entitled A Well Favored Gentleman about Ian Fairchild. His character made his first appearance in the first book of the Well Pleasured series, A Well Pleasured Lady. Ian is the son of a selkie and has powers due to that legacy.
  • In When Demons Walk, there is a selkie boy, recognizable by his white hair and dark eyes. Most people think he's creepy, but one of the protagonists takes pity on him because he's blind ... and selkies are a proud warrior race that usually kills the disabled. The boy was found on the shore, presumably left there by his mother to get him safely away from his own kin.
  • JJ Beazley's short story "When the Waves Call" has a female selkie coming ashore on the west coast of Ireland at the time of the harvest moon, looking for a human male to help her move back to the land.
  • In the Tempest (2011) trilogy, selkies comprise one of the five main aquatic kingdoms of the Pacific. Unlike most examples, they can breathe underwater in both their human and their seal forms, although they can swim faster when they're seals. Kona and his eight siblings are selkie royalty and live in a castle on a small island. When not in seal form, they use a shrinking spell on their pelts, which they carry in small pouches around their necks.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The "Fae Gone Wild" episode of Lost Girl centred around selkies whose seal skins were stolen by a sleazy strip club owner. It is noted that selkies are treated as an exception to the usual rules against fae and humans interacting; in most cases fae must "claim" humans as some form of property and long-term romantic relationships are discouraged, but selkies can stay with humans for longer as they're basically human without their pelts.
  • In Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls makes a sealskin wetsuit. This has suggested to at least one viewer how selkies might be demythified.
  • In an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in which the movie being riffed on was The Space Children, Mike comments, "There's a Selkie caught in the oil slick."

  • In the Faroe Islands there are two versions of the story of the Selkie or Seal Wife. A young farmer from the town of Mikladalur on Kalsoy island goes to the beach to watch the selkies dance. He hides the skin of a beautiful selkie maid, so she can't go back to sea and forces her to marry him. He keeps her skin in a chest and keeps the key with him both day and night. One day when out fishing, he discovers that he has forgotten to bring his key. When he returns home, the selkie wife has escaped back to sea, leaving their children behind. Later, when the farmer on a hunt kills both her selkie husband and two selkie sons, she promises to take revenge upon the men of Mikladalur. Some shall be drowned, some shall fall from cliffs and slopes, and this shall continue until so many men have been lost that they will be able to link arms around the whole island of Kallsoy.
  • One tale tells of the fisherman Cagan who married a seal-woman. Against his wife's wishes he set sail dangerously late in the year and was trapped battling a terrible storm, unable to return home. His wife shifted to her seal form and saved him, even though this meant she could never return to her human body and hence her happy home.
    • Another story tells of a childless fisherman who found a selkie child in his nets and adopted it. It ends similarly to the above.
  • Some stories from Shetland have selkies luring islanders into the sea at midsummer, the lovelorn humans never returning to dry land.
  • Seal shapeshifters similar to the selkie exist in the folklore of many cultures. A corresponding creature existed in Swedish legend, and the Chinook people of North America have a similar tale of a boy who changes into a seal.
  • One tale from the Hebrides islands has a mermaid princess who is unhappy that she has webbed feet instead of a tail, having inherited human genes from her great-grandfather (a sailor). After her mother dies, her father remarries a SeaWitch, who is (not surprisingly) a Wicked Stepmother, jealous of the princess' beauty. When her biological mother was alive, she would come up on land and save an apple for the princess. The Sea Witch tricks the princess into going up on land...only instead of eating an apple, convinces her to eat a wild grape. The grape turns her into a seal, except for one night each year.

  • US singer Alexander James Adams sings "First Rising Tide", about a selkie man, on his 2008 CD A Familiar Promise.
  • Tori Amos' 2014 album Unrepentant Geraldines features a song called "Selkie".
  • The Progressive Death Metal band Between the Buried and Me album Alaska has a song called "Selkies: The Endless Obsession."
  • The album Honeycomb by former Pixies front-man Frank Black includes a tune called "Selkie Bride", which alludes to the Selkie legend.
  • Dutch symphonic metal group Blackbriar has a song called "Selkie" on their album The Cause of Shipwreck. The song tells the story of a man who steals and hides a selkie's sealskin, only for her to steal it back and escape. Afterward, the man jumps off a cliff to join her in the sea.
  • The US folk artist Gordon Bok wrote "Peter Kagan and the Wind" a cantefable about the fisherman Kagan who married a selkie, and how his selkie wife saved him from a terrible storm, even though this meant she could never return to her human body and hence her happy home.
  • "The Great Selkie of Sule Skerry", Child #113. A woman has her child taken away by its father, the great selkie of Sule Skerry which can transform from a seal into a human. The woman is fated to marry a gunner who will harpoon the selkie and their son.
    • The Joan Baez song called "Silkie" on her second album in 1961 is a version of this.
  • In Heather Dale's album Gawain and the Green Knight, there is a song called "The Maiden and the Selkie", about a selkie lord who wishes to marry a fisherman's daughter — a matter complicated by the fact that she cannot live with him underwater, but he cannot himself live on land past midnight without turning into seafoam.
  • Druid folk singer Damh the Bard's first album Herne's Apprentice features a song titled "The Selkie" about these beings.
  • The Faroese ballad "Kópakvæði" (the seal-ballad) by Faroese writer Joen Danielsen is based on the story about the Seal-Wife from Kalsoy island. The ballad is in Faroese and consists of 68 verses.
  • The British folk artist Talis Kimberley wrote "Still Catch the Tide," a song written from the perspective of the selkie's lover, upon returning to find the selkie (which is of indeterminate gender) packing their things to return to the sea. The song has been covered by several other folk artists.
  • The song "Sælkvinden" (the seal-woman) by Danish singer Lars Lilholt is a sad story about a young fisherman and a selkie.
  • Californian filk artist Seanan McGuire released the song "In This Sea," a song from the perspective of a selkie's lover letting her willingly go, on the CD Stars Fall Home. The same album contains a cover of the Talis Kimberly song above.
  • Singer Mary McLaughlin sings a beautiful song entitled "Sealwoman/Yundah" on the Celtic Voices: Women of Song CD.
  • Singer Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, opens her solo album Silver Sea with the song "You Brought Me Up", a Selkie woman captured then abandoned on land.
  • The most common interpretation of Joanna Newsom's "Colleen" is that the song's eponymous narrator is a selkie. This interpretation explains every word in a song that would otherwise come across as a Mind Screw.
  • The Irish-American musical group, Solas, have a song called "The Grey Selchie" on their The Words That Remain CD.
  • Australian folk band Spiral Dance, in their 1999 CD titled Magick, includes a song titled "Song for a Selkie".
  • Singer/songwriter S. J. Tucker created a song "Seafaring Satyr" based on Catherynne M. Valente's story about a female satyr and a male selkie.
  • The poet Jane Yolen wrote a poem entitled "The Ballad of the White Seal Maid", that is a sad story of a fisherman and his selkie wife. This poem was set to music by the folk musician Lui Collins, and recorded by her and also by Mike Agranoff.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Dreaming includes selkies. As all the kiths embody various dreams, selkies are dreams of the sea. Their sealskin coat can take any form (from a belt to a leather jacket to a wetsuit), and they start to wither and die (at least, their fae side does) if they're away from the coast for too long.
  • Selkie appear in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game as a Neutral race capable of being either allies or enemies. They resemble seals with human-like hands and facial features, who have the ability to transform into humans. Wereseals appear in some editions as a separate type of creature: there is also a much nastier variant in the form of the "seawolf", which is essentially an amphibious werewolf with the beast form of a huge, wolf-headed seal.
  • In Eclipse Phase Selkies are human-seal hybrid morphs designed for deep underwater environments, particularly the sub-crustal seas of Ceres and Europa. They look like mermaids with seal faces.
  • In Magic: The Gathering there are three cards with the name selkie in them. They are classified as merfolk, are all green/blue hybrid-mana creatures, and pictured as half seal, half human. The flavour text for the card Wistful Selkie says, "Selkies call to a sea they never swam, in a tongue they never spoke, with a song they never learned." This is not just a bit of Meaningless Meaningful Words but in fact a very necessary Lampshade Hanging: the selkies' home plane of Shadowmoor has no oceans, just rivers that don't go anywhere, so these selkies are adapted to freshwater and presumably very confused.
  • Selkies in Pathfinder are shapeshifting Monstrous Humanoids whose true form is part human and part leopard seal. They tend to be Shapeshifting Tricksters, are accomplished bullshitters, and range from somewhat feral to out-and-out nasty.
  • The Ocean Punk setting of Seas Of Vodari for Dungeons & Dragons has selkies as a playable race. They're fairly close to the typical depiction, being aquatic fey who can shapeshift between the form of a human or a seal — gamesmasters are given two options for how to handle the "enchanted skin" part of the myth, with it either being impossible to steal/destroy due to fairy magic, or else the selkie will grow a new one in a year and a day if it is taken. Relationships with surface-dwelling humanoids are much more voluntary on both parties' sides, but still have a tendency to end up tragic, as selkies suffer both from pronounced wanderlust and a tendency to fall in love "quickly and easily".

    Video Games 
  • Selkies in AdventureQuest are not shapeshifting humans, but rather, just seals that can transform into vicious, humanoid seals.
  • The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark: During their trip to Ireland, McQueen and Dooley encounter a seal that sings in English. Whether it's actually a selkie is not established, because by this point a singing seal falls so far below their weirdness threshold that they don't even question it, but it seems the most likely explanation.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles has a race called Selkie, however, unlike mythical Selkies, they are simply a humanoid race, with body paint and blue-green hair, with no apparent shapeshifting abilities. However, in their town, there is a selkie who says something along the lines of, "We Selkies came from the sea, and one day we will return there." Also, this same main town of the Selkies, Leuda, is set on an island far out at sea.
  • In I=MGCM, Selkie is a demon species that doesn't resemble a wereseal or even a seal at all, but instead resembles a half woman body inside a giant sentient butterfly.
  • The writers of Knights of the Old Republic may have derived the name of their race of aquatic peoples, the Selkath, from the Selkie legends.
  • While Primarina from Pokémon Sun and Moon has a mermaid aesthetic, it also seems to draw inspiration from selkies, since it's a feminine-looking sea lion with a compelling singing voice.

    Web Comics 
  • The world of Archipelago being full of Beast Men and wereanimals of various sorts, a were-walrus appears in book 9, page 36.
  • Bad Machinery, "The Case of the Fire Inside", Sonny accidentally acquires a selkie girl's skin (Lottie stuffed it in his bag while he wasn't looking, and neither of them realized that it was a selkie skin). The selkie girl (Ellen Selkie, as she ends up being called) goes looking for her skin, and due to shenanigans, she finds herself enrolled at the same school as Sonny and Lottie.
    • Ellen's father also comes looking for her and her sister, who turns out to be Mildred's psychotic romantic rival (for the young man who found her sealskin as a child). Unfortunately, she left her skin behind when she was very young and no longer fits into it, leaving her trapped as a human. She ends up arrested for murdering previous rivals.
  • In Eths Skin the titular character accidentally picks up a selkie's skin and finds that they can't let go of it. They go on an adventure with Rel, the selkie, to solve the issue.
  • In Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name by Tess Stone, the character Veser is the Half-Human Hybrid of a human/selkie marriage. Kind of a Deconstruction: it seems to posit that a guy who would knowingly hold a selkie against her will is likely a Jerkass (he also abuses his son and murders his best friend), their marriage is a sham, and Veser seems to acknowledge that his mom would abandon him if given the chance.
  • Mixed Myth features a character who's part selkie and part werewolf. He can transform into a wolf, but only when he has his wolfskin with him. Later, his pureblood selkie relatives show up.
  • Oi! Tales of Bardic Fury: Oi, the titular location, was founded by a woman who was seduced by a male selkie, and her three selkie children. In the present, Star Seal's daughter Rhiannon is one.
  • Realmwalker has an upcoming arc focusing on Selkies.
  • Red Right Hand has a brief mention of selkies.
  • Selkie is the story of a young selkie girl adopted by a human. The depiction is quite different from normal folklore, presenting selkies as a fish-like humanoid species. The story focuses on problems related to the girl's unusual needs, like her carnivorous diet and her problems fitting into normal shoes.
  • Shallowskin: After a sudden house incident, a brownie named Browne ends up on a beach where he meets a seemingly normal seal named Merril who later revealed herself as a Selkie, in the nude.
  • Sister Claire Missing Moments has a storyline that deals with supporting character Oscar's past where a selkie saved a young girl, Catharine, from the ocean and brought her to Oscar on the shore. Said selkie is eventually revealed to be Gabrielle, the angel that later helps Claire in the present story.

    Web Original 
  • Kingdom of Loathing includes wereseals. Blood of the Wereseal is a potion that causes your muscles to wax and wane with the moons.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Catscratch, the banshee that was haunting the Highland Quid Clan was in fact a selkie (called a "seal woman" in the show) under a curse.
  • Disenchantment features Ursula, who is a "forest selkie" that can turn into a bear when she wears her bearskin (or, as she clarifies, she's a bear that turns into a human when she takes OFF the skin). King Zog falls in love with her despite (or possibly because of) her brutish and uncourtly mannerisms and briefly tries to hide her skin to keep her from leaving.
  • The Netflix children's series Puffin Rock features a seal character named Silky.
  • In Wishfart, selkies appear as humanoid seals who resemble regular seal pups as babies. In the episode "Baby Seal Thingy", Akiko finds a baby selkie who immediately imprints on her and thinks she's his mother. Not wanting the responsibility, Akiko wishes the selkie was big enough to look after himself and Dez's leprechaun magic makes this happen, only for the selkie to end up with an adult body, but still the brain of a baby.


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Alternative Title(s): Selkies, Wereseals



Fans of the selkie legend can probably guess the selkidomus will be some kind of seal creature. (Though this one seems to be combined with a giant monster rather than a humanoid.)

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / SelkiesAndWereseals

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