Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Seals ...

The February seal card sale has begun!
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'Seas barking like seals, 
Blue seas and green ...'
Captain Cat in Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

There is something very mysterious about seals. I remember keeping an eye open for these fine creatures for many years off the Cornish coast, and failing to see one in the wild. It was always a joy to witness the work of the Gweek Seal Sanctuary. I refer to these holidays in an interview in the February 2009 edition of Wendy Webb's poetry zine, eTips.

As time went by, we began to spot seals around the cliffs in the vicinity of Porthgwarra (link: painting by Richard Tuff), a fascinating cove with rock tunnels. When I worked in Cambridge, we were within striking distance of the wonderful seal colony at Blakeney Point.

We moved to Wales some 17 years ago, and were delighted to find Atlantic grey seals along the coast and especially around Cardigan Island. On one occasion I watched a mother seal teaching her white fluffy pup to swim in one of the Pembrokeshire coves. A disgruntled bull seal appeared from nowhere, and we held our breath while the mother managed magnificently to protect her offspring from the wiles of its would-be attacker.

The ways of the natural world are rarely as 'comfortable' as we would sometimes have them be in our imagination. The seal in the photograph above (spotted north of the Scottish border) exuded a certain sense of benevolent power and idle curiosity. I was particularly taken with the juxtaposition of creature and rock. The seal fitted perfectly into its natural environment; and we felt privileged to join it, albeit for the duration of a brief encounter.
... and finally ...

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