Singing with the Seals
You know what they say “When you’ve seen one seal, you’ve seen them all!” The little ones look cute and the large males look threatening but the rest are – well seal like.
So with very little enthusiasm I plodded solemnly across from the Horsey Mill (now restored) to the coast. Conditions were quite good – it had stopped raining and from time to time the sun peeped through the rather menacing clouds. Very few visitors that day and so the seals had rather spread themselves. Interestingly I heard them before I saw them. A gentle moaning sound from some which others took up and I began to wonder if I had arrived during choir practice. There were seals everywhere. Some down by the sea, others up in the dunes, several lying across the path and they all seemed to be joining in the gentle chorus.
One more knowledgeable than I passed by me. “They do it to identify their pups!” he explained. Fine – but it sounded to me more like a lullaby for the wee ones.
In for a penny if for a pound I decided to join in – not too loud you understand in case I sang the wrong notes (just like it is in church) I felt my efforts were treated more with curiosity than appreciation. One or two larger females hurried their young away, but a couple of adolescent posers among them headed my way and arranged themselves. Each time I moved with the camera they would, with a great deal of effort, rotate themselves so that I could see their best side.
Joking apart it is not difficult to understand where the legends I heard in Orkney about selkies (seal people) come from. These folk tales frequently revolve around female selkies being coerced into relationships with humans. The two who seemed to enjoy being photographed and sung to, were both very appealing and produced very mournful expressions as I left.
Unkind friends have suggested my musical efforts could of course explain why there were so few tourists around that day.
You don’t follow? You’ve never heard me sing!
Fortunately seals are less critical and actually unable to place their flippers in their ears.