Sea Change

The Government is considering a plan to allow fishermen to shoot seals with high-powered rifles (Irish Times 03/10/20)…


There had been a covenant.

For generations seals and mankind had lived in harmony. The seals would work at our SeaWorlds, enlivening an attraction which would otherwise consist merely of a water-slide, a gift-shop and an aquarium containing a tiny Nemo lookalike. They would leap from the water, through a blazing hoop and down into the heart of a stupendous splash. In return the humans would throw them fish. The seals would clap – sarcastically, as it happens, since they can catch their own fish – and schools of small children would go home contented.

At sea they would pop up beside whale-spotting trips, providing small consolation to cold, gloomy tourists who had spent an hour staring vainly at a cold, gloomy surface.

That was all now at an end.

Fish numbers were falling. This was due to over-fishing, a consequence that seemed to have come as a surprise to the humans.  Anyway, there weren’t enough for both seal and man, so rather than leave what there was to the group that could eat nothing else, the one that had access to fruit, quinoa and the Big Mac had decided it needed the fish too.

And then they wonder why species become extinct.

And so it was that Clyde, swimming slowly home one evening, was surprised to see small spurts of water breaking the surface around him, as if he was being spat at by a shoal of mermaids. He looked around and noticed that along the side of a distant fishing-boat stood a number of men with rifles.

He was being shot at.

They didn’t hit him, of course, fisherman are no more adept with a rifle than an elephant-hunter would be with a fishing-rod, but the whip-crack of each bullet stung, to his very soul.

His blood boiled. Mammals can do that.

He slipped beneath the waves, like a submarine dodging a torpedo, and down to a small cave. There, lying untouched for decades, was a World War II mine. He slid carefully beneath its virus-like shape and began to push it gently towards the surface.

Balanced on his nose.







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