Posts Tagged ‘nautical foibles’

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Schrodinger’s Seal

June 26, 2009

Today, Becca and Raquel went surfing and I tagged along so I’d get to do errands in town afterwards. While they were in the water at Cowell’s in Santa Cruz, I wandered up to the nearby lighthouse (the one with a surf museum in it) to pass the time. On the cliffs there, past the fence and behind the numerous signs about not going on the cliffs or touching the wildlife, there was a baby seal.

Being completely sentimental and a little touristy, I stopped to take a picture. However, I quickly realized that this was not the sort of baby seal that wanted its picture taken. It was clearly sick, listless and visibly emaciated. Its front fins, proportionally huge for its body (like a puppy with huge paws) were all dry and cracked and looked infected. The longer I looked, the more my heart broke. It was very obviously stranded and starving, and I knew perfectly well that it was illegal for me to even get close to it- not that I had any idea what I would do to help it, even if I had gotten closer. It was too young for fish, really too small to be away from its mother at all; I could see, in fact, two distressed seals lingering around and swimming back and forth in the water immediately below the cliff.

The nearby “Don’t you dare mess with the wildlife” signs had a number for the Marine Mammal center. I called that number three times over the course of the next hour, increasingly upset. Passers by stopped, commented, made sad or cynical murmurs at it, and moved on. Two different ladies stopped to hug me, near the end, because I was crying so hard. The thing would adjust, and sigh, showing off all its ribs, then a few minutes later it would look at me, without lifting its head, as if it was too tired. One of the ladies who stopped to comfort me then went to pester the park rangers to pester the Marine center. The third time I called the center, they said that, yes, they’d heard about it and were sending someone out. However, regulars to the paths around the area reported that they’d called in a week ago about the same seal, and that the center had promised they’d send someone out then, too.

Finally, we had to leave to get Raquel to class. While we were on campus, we made a quick loop through the Earth & Marine Sciences building, pestering all the professors in their offices for phone numbers. We were on the phone for about forty minutes solid, bothering people at the Long and Seymour Marine Labs. Finally, we went back down to the beach to check on the seal.

It was gone when we got there, about an hour after we’d left it. I have no idea now if the seal is alive and in the care of a wildlife rescue team, or dead and simply cleared away to where it won’t upset the public.

None of this is really relevant to anything. Except, you know, overfishing is bad and starving baby seals are really depressing.