OneKind has a long history of defending Scotland’s seals from persecution. Just a few weeks ago, we were nearing the final steps of rolling out our campaign to ban seal shooting, when something unexpected happened. The Scottish Government launched amendments to the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill to remove the two main grounds for granting licenses to shoot seals- to protect the health and welfare of farmed fish and to prevent serious damage- which would introduce an effective ban on seal shooting. These amendments have now been passed!
We, of course, fully support this ban, but as this ban is not being implented for welfare reasons, we decided it was important to show the Scottish Government just how beloved seals are by the Scottish population. And so we asked you to get creative for Scotland’s seals- and you delivered!
Here’s the incredible poems artwork, photographs, videos and stories we’ve had through from our supporters so far! If you’d like to send something through, please just get in touch with OneKind Campaigner, Eve, at firstname.lastname@example.org. #LookOutForSeals
Reon (with help from mum!)
Seafield Beach, Fife
Redpoint Beach, Gairloch
Graemsay, Orkney Islands
Duncansby Head, Caithness
Stroma Island, Pentland Firth
BEDDED ON THE ANCIENT LAVA DYKES
HOW CAN THEY FIND COMFORT ON SUCH STONE
CURVED BODIES CLEAVED ON ANGLED WHORLS
A ROUNDED SINUOUS RELAXATION
A CASUAL FLIPPER LAZILY EXTENDS
A TAIL FIN RAISES . SOMETIMES A ROUNDED HEAD
ROUND BLACK SHINING EYES STARE STEADILY
BELIE INTELLIGENCE BEYOND OUR KEN
SILVERED FUR WITH TAWNY SHADOWS
BECOMES SHINING SATIN IN THE SEA
WHEN WITH A GENTLE TURN AND PLOP
ONE SLIPS AND DROPS INTO THE SUNLIT WAVE
ON A SINGLE ROCK, A SINGLE DOZES
BASKING ALONE IN PERFECT SILHOUETTE
BLUEISH BLACK WITH DARKER SPOT
AS THOUGH DECLARING INDEPENDENCE
FROM THE HERD, DEFINED AGAINST
THE SETTING SUN, WHICH TURNS THE
SEA TO GOLD
THERE ARE HUNDREDS ROUND THIS ISLAND
LIVING THEIR PRIVATE LIVES
OUR ACQUAINTANCE IS SHAPED BY DATA
GLEANED BY SCHOLARS. WE HAVE NO
INTIMACY WITH THESE CREATURES.
WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO SEE THEM REST
ON ROCKS OF THIS ISLAND WE CALL HOME
Allison Galbraith & Alette Willis
A re-telling of ‘Seal Island’ a Scottish folklore story originally told by Duncan Williamson (1928-2007) against the backdrop of Oban.
Tales of seal spotting
“As a one-time member of a walking group we used to often see the abundance of seals at the Ythan Estuary near Aberdeen. Those in the water would often swim close to us and take a good look at us as we waved and talked to them. I wonder what they thought of us! I have always loved these lovely marine animals and I do hope they receive all the protection they deserve.”
“Many years ago, on the Isle of Skye I watched seals as some kayaks came into a bay and to the shore. The seals watched the kayaks too, submerging as the boats got near and re-emerging as they past, still watching. Later, with some height I could see them swimming underwater against the sandy sea bottom. Magic!”
“Over the years in Islay I have seen hundreds of seals. One amazing experience was having a swim in October and a seal coming to within 6 or 8 feet of me, just swimming to and fro, watching me. I watched the seal too and we locked gazes for about 15 minutes!”
“I used to love seeing the seals from the train on my commute to work from Fife to Edinburgh!”
“Growing up in Thurso, Caithness seals were an ever present but always joyful part of my childhood, seeing them in the Pentland Firth or lounging in the sun upstream in Thurso River. My first experience of the mythology around these beautiful creatures and the tale of the Selkies was from a retired English teacher in to take our class for the day. Hearing the Selkie tales in her lovely Orcadian accent certainly added to the magic and seals have been a firm favourite animal of mine since.
My most memorable encounters with seals come from my time living in Orkney. My favourite one has to be the time I took a day trip from mainland Orkney over to the Isle of Graemsay to spend the whole day walking around the coast of the island. Early on in my walk I came across a group of seals lounging in the sun. As I carried on along the coast I became aware that a group of them had swum along next to me and were watching me from the bobbing waves. I stood to watch them for a while and continued on. After walking quite a bit further on I turned to see that there was still one solitary seal watching me from the water. We sat and observed one another for a while. It was quite a funny experience, as if this seal was the guardian of the island watching this new person to make sure I was behaving myself and not littering or something, or that they just wanted to see what I was up to as is their inquisitive nature!
I find that whenever I encounter a seal it is such a lovely experience, they are so calm and serene in the water but also so funny and playful. While living on the Isle of Hoy I often watched them from the shore outside my house in the Bay of Quoys which resulted in the painting of two seals in the misty landscape that I now sell as a greetings card. Over the years seals have inspired many of my paintings, poetry, journaling and zines. To me they are an iconic Scottish species that are truly magical and deserve our appreciation and protection.”