Into A Seals World

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

It is a perfectly still Sunday morning, no wind at all and the sun is shining brightly, even at 6:30am. Sam and I have fed the animals and whilst he picks his way over the stones for treasure, I now sit upon the rocky slope that banks around the coast at Stony Porth.

Droppy Nose Point to my right stands tall, a monument of sea carved granite in the sunshine. Oyster catchers are noisily peep peeping, their bright colours of black, white and orange, stand out clearly in the bright, crisp light. The granite rocks are a deep peaty, speckled brown as the tide retreats, leaving tiny yellow periwinkles seeking cover in the wet heaps of seaweed.

The sun warms my back. The water is glass-like and calm, seals lounge on their tummies and bob gently in the bay, there is the occasional snort of air as they surface. There is about nine of them here this morning and I am hoping to swim with them. They watch me closely as I slowly tip toe into the shallows.

The water is clear green, trees of bladder wrack rise up around me and the seabed is an enchanting mix of granite pebbles, weeds and sand. In the distance the rocks that divide Stony Porth and South Stony are lined with shags, stood to attention in rows on the horizon.

One seal is curious enough to stay and watch me, whilst the others move slowly further out. I stay in the relatively shallow water, I feel quite vulnerable and very conscious that I am in their world, and out of mine. As soon as my feet are off the sand I feel that sense of moving from my comfort zone to their comfort zone. However, the beauty of these magnificent animals, their dark pool-like eyes and dog-like features are captivating. I very slowly, trying hard to make barely a ripple, float and paddle my way towards the little seal. It remains about 40 feet away but we exchange gazes as we both bob on the watery horizon. Neither of us are frightened but neither ventures any closer.

There is only the gentle lapping of the water on the rocky shore and the bird calls, otherwise total peace.

A curlew flies past to break our gaze, I gradually make my way back to the shore and as I sit and dry myself in the sun, the little seal watches and I wonder if next time he may come closer.

My lovely friend Clem Davies wrote in his book of poems, Magic in My Eyes, a poem for Sampy the Seal;

“From under the gorsy hill of Samson, Long granite arms extend into the ocean, by Droppy Nose point a wildlife heaven, with rounded rocks lies a sheltered haven. Gathering a white-haired chest of sand, where reddish kelp holds fast to the strand, swirling endlessly over living things, till storm-torn freedom a new life brings. Then the seaweed garland on the shore, is a dwelling for many creatures more, Sampy the seal raised beautiful calves, till nylon net left deep white scars. Now this lonely lagoon is her home, for Sampy has lost all need to roam, at present her pension is solitude, that’s paid in crab and fishy food. A rhythmic couch of seaweed fronds, or sea-rounded rocks rest upon, and forever-changing skies and seas, are all arranged to life at ease. Yet still her curiosity abounds, so when she overhears human sounds, or smells their scent heavy on the air, Sampy instantly becomes aware. Look and you may see her whiskered head, or swirls as she enters her seaweed bed, her swift movements are part of the charm, for below the surface all is calm.”

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