I guess it's similar to the dog owners who teach their dogs to sing - the besotted owner can understand, but it's hard for anyone else to make out the words.
I'm really surprised Hoover isn't (or wasn't) more famous- a talking seal is crazy weird!Ever wonder if any wild seals, exposed to fisherman in their everyday lives, picked up the trick? Imagine being in your boat and hearing "someone" yelling at you from across the water...
There are already wild birds which imitate some human-created noises: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjE0Kdfos4YBut they already have the ability of imitation, which I'm not sure most seals do (yet).
He really sounded human. He took me by surprise. One day, around 1980, I went to the New England Aquarium and watched the seals in the pool outside. I thought that there was an old drunken man accosting people because I kept hearing "Hoovah, come ovah heah" (Hoover, come over here in a heavy NE accent) over and over. It took me about 5 minutes to actually believe that it was the seal. It was bizarre because he would make eye contact as he was talking.Needless to say, I made it a point to stop by there whenever I was near Quincy Market. The recordings do not do him justice, the technology was so rudimentary back then. He really sounded like a bona fide raspy, old blues musician. His laugh was so funny. He made everyone smile.Wish he were still around.