One of my friends is a pet photographer, and she just posted some photos that are a lot like this - minus the body of water. I’m so jealous of her career.
Balancing Act, 1962. Source: Photographic Morgue of the New York Journal-American, Harry Ransom Center:
A seal puts on a show by balancing a doll before young viewers at a performance of the Krone Circus in Aachen, Germany.