Sunday, October 18, 2015

Freedom Is Complicated For Released Seals

WE WATCHED with wonder for the magic to unfold. Fifteen seals were about to be released back into the wild by an organization working in conjunction with the Vancouver Aquarium.

There was no big announcement. I was one of a few passersby lucky enough to stumble on the event at Crescent Beach during a recent walk.

The curious were drawn to the water's edge, slogging through the squishy beach floor with a sense of anticipation.

As we got nearer we could see the crates that contained the seals.

When volunteers and staff carefully unlatched the gates, the released seals must have wondered at their fate.

Their futures unknown, identification tags will give clues of their travels.

They slowly slithered their sluggish bodies along the sand to the sea a few feet away. Only one or two swam off without a single glance backward.

Most looked back, not ahead, with big puppy-dog stares at their caregivers as if to say, "Do I really have to go?"

Yes, they had to go. Their caregivers held a wall of boards to gently prevent them from coming back to the shore. Like birds in the nest or young adults in the basement, it was time to leave the comforts of what had become a nursery and loving home to the lost, malnourished, injured and abandoned.

Someone came along to record the important "coming of age" ceremony.

"Do I look my best? Is there a little seaweed tangled in my whiskers?"

Freedom is as dangerous as it is delicious. These seals must now catch fish in the wild on their own while trying to avoid being a whale's next meal.

Their lot, however, will likely be far better than what some seals in Canada, in stark contrast, sadly experience HERE.

In a paradoxical world of selective compassions, these rescued seals are fortunate to have been given a second chance at an independent life in the wild. Nonetheless, there was understandably some apprehension.

Mostly, however, there was exhilaration at seeing these endearing creatures continue on their journey in a natural way. People who gained their trust and became their friends seemed to say, "Here is the world ... enjoy it ... see what you can do in it. Try not to do anything foolish and if you are afraid try to be brave because the world, as they say, truly IS your oyster!"

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Horse Of A Different Colour At Crescent Beach

TINY HOOFLESS HORSES with curly tails are sometimes known as Horse Caterpillars when translating the word Hippocampus from Latin as it relates to small fish. I remember seeing seahorses live at the Vancouver Aquarium years ago. Someone posted a video of this unique sea creature HERE.

Petite seahorses spark our imaginations and are often replicated for decoration. They are so cute they sometimes look cartoonish to humans who are their number one threat. Pollution and catching them by the millions yearly, particularly in Asia where their dried bodies are considered cures for various ailments, cuts their numbers down drastically.

The seahorses I see during my walks at Crescent Beach are usually far bigger than the real thing, which ranges from under an inch to just over a foot long. The statuesque stone seahorse (above) is on a pillar at a gate.

This seahorse with a greenish eye lends playfulness to the rust coloured gate.

This large version (above) is one of several similarly painted carvings located by the swimming pool at Crescent Beach. Two tiny ones are on the sign below.

The Seahorse Grill has a seahorse in the widow. Here is a closer look below.

A black painted seahorse (below) hangs over a pot of geraniums.

Most often seahorses are painted bluish-green like the three inch one tacked to the fence below. I am not certain of the true colours of the sea creature as they tend to match their surroundings and can look yellow to vibrant red.

The seahorse below is also pictured at the top of this post. On a different day from a different perspective the colour changed from white to pale gray.

I like the metal gray one (below) welded to the reeds.

There are three small woodcarvings of seahorses to find amid the fish below.

Someone even injected seahorses into Crescent Beach scenes and then tacked the printed pictures onto poles ... perhaps for a treasure hunt.

Live seahorses are a treasure, indeed, but the hunt for them is not a game. Uniquely designed so that the male gives birth to future generations from its mini frontal pouch, these "horses of a different colour" deserve to survive.

The fact that they barely seem real adds to their wide appeal. There is something otherworldly, waiflike and magical about seahorses. Their adorable snouts, miniature horse-like heads and flowing flexible tails seem more suited to a mermaid's tale than a nonfictional world.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms