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.