The natural world is a cold, cruel and difficult place, as this video—of the (highly graphic) miracle of seal childbirth—testifies. Not only does no one come to help a mother in the middle of a difficult labor, the one seal that does show up tries to steal the baby, and birds start eating the placenta off the seal pup just minutes after it enters the world.
In the video, made by Earth Touch news and shared by science writer Jason Goldman on io9, it does at first look like a soon-to-be mother seal is getting some help from another seal. After all, before the second seal steps in, the mother seal is struggling to bring her baby into the world, waddling along and wacking her new baby's head on the rocks. But the helper seal's actions swiftly become much less altruistic, with the second seal apparently trying to kidnap the newly born baby.
According to Goldman, kidnappings of newborns do happen in the natural world. Why an animal would steal another's baby, however, isn't so clear. Raising a child is a lot of work, and, as the child is not their biological offspring, the regular notion of “protecting and passing on their genes” wouldn't really apply.
Though the video ends abruptly, everything does work out in the end. The mom seal got her pup back, says Goldman, and the two were soon seen swimming together.
If, for some reason, watching seals give birth is really your jam, Explore.org has more videos captured from Seal Island, Maine, of this year's pupping season. They also have a live stream where you can watch the little baby seals grow, though this late in the season most of the seals have already taken out to sea.