Picture This: Ten Yards from a Seal Pup

by Keith Savage · 11 comments

A wind stiff with hidden salts sends the floating pier clattering against the weedy stones of Lunga. The largest of the Treshnish Isles, Lunga withers in the sea gales off Mull’s west coast. We file off the Hoy Lass and clamber onto the island. After a few yards, I stoop and pick out a piece of seaglass from the fine black sand frosting the rocks. Then, a prehistoric roar erupts to my left where my fellow boaters are shooting photographs. I cross the treacherous stones and spy a rough beach populated by tens of large Atlantic Gray seals. Gray heads bob in the small bay, and furry white lumps lay amongst the stones. These are seal pups, and they occasionally emit a shockingly human whine. It’s breeding season.

I stood not ten yards from this seal pup on an upthrust platform of pitted rock. I must have looked like some terrible god; it looked like something too beautiful to be real. It struggled amongst the rocks with its webbed claws and kicked uselessly with its flipper feet. It made noises of hunger or fear while the adults craned their heads and watched me balefully, I imagined. I retreated. I wanted off Lunga. It is not meant for us to see – our mere presence is ruinous. I crossed the island, dropped the seaglass in the sand, and watched for our boat out.

tour chinaNo Gravatar September 24, 2011 at 8:45 AM

I like the innocent, and helpless eyes of the seal pup. Can’t imagine how you could get the nice shot!

Jeff TiteliusNo Gravatar September 18, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Wonderfully written and spectacular close-up shot of the seal pup! What a face on that little guy…I loved your sentiment “our mere presence is ruinous” – the absolute truth of such natural beauty and existence!

DaveNo Gravatar September 17, 2011 at 3:31 AM

Did you do any photo editing to the picture? The seal looks like an oil painting it’s so shiny.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 17, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Yes, minor alterations to improve clarity and color.

MichaelNo Gravatar September 16, 2011 at 10:25 PM


Peggy McPartlandNo Gravatar September 16, 2011 at 3:13 PM

You’re definitely right that there are places that we’re just not meant to be. So beautifully expressed, Keith.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 17, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Cheers, Peggy.

LindaNo Gravatar September 16, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Beautiful, all of it, your writing, the photo, the pup and …….. your sentiments. It’s nice to be able to share this moment with you, but, yes, there are places man should definitely stay away from, where Mother Nature knows far better than we do!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 16, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Thanks Linda. It was a privilege to have visited Lunga even though it made me squirm a bit inside.

KenNo Gravatar September 16, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Is there any kind of baby that fails to stir something warm and elemental in us? Well, maybe a baby pit viper.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 16, 2011 at 2:48 PM

And human babies.

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