Every morning, at first light, my dog and I walk and run along the beach at Plaice Cove. For the past few weeks dead seals have been dotting the sand. At first it was small seals, infants, I guessed, less than two feet long. There were also more dead gulls, five or six every few days, washing about in the surf.
Today, we found a four foot long adult seal, halfway down the beach. It was high tide, and he had washed up right next to the big boulders protecting the houses above, and he was the color of the boulders, and it was still dark, so when Tug sniffed at him, I thought it was just a boulder some dog had marked. Then, I realized it was a full grown seal, his coat dappled like the rocks around him.
We walked down toward North Hampton, and near the North Hampton line, beyond that last flagpole, lay a six foot fish, at least 250 lbs, I don't know what kind of fish. Tuna maybe. It's fins and body had been chewed. Birds, maybe. Maybe sharks, but smaller bites, birds more likely.
Seals have been washing up from Maine to Massachusetts and the New England Aquarium is doing necropsies to figure out what is killing the mammals. So far, no answers.
This being a political blog, I suppose I should point out that citizens at times like these, turn to their government for answers. There's no profit in doing the labor to figure out what is happening to the seals. But as citizens, as human beings, we want to know. and personally, I'm happy to think of my tax dollars going to pay for some marine biologists to figure out these things. But this is a digression, really. This event transcends the Tea Party dolts and the right wingers who bleat daily about what is wrong with the world. This is so much more important than their stupid, ignorant anger. The seals don't care about Job Creators or big government. They just live their lives out there beyond the surf, not bothering us or even letting us know they are out there.
It's depressing, but why is it depressing?
Drowning polar bears are depressing, but that you can say is depressing because we can feel guilty about the polar bears if we, as human beings have played a causative role in their demise.
The seals, so far, are not our fault. It's possible, like the dead birds Rachel Carson tied to insecticide in The Silent Spring, mankind may have played a role in the death of the seals, but so far we are not prime suspects.
The seals are just washing up with no explanation.
Whatever it is, it's not just mammals affected. Those dead gulls and that enormous fish attest to a cross species event. I thought it might be something to do with a bad storm at sea, but my wife assures me fish do not die in ocean storms, seals maybe, if they cannot catch a breath, but not fish. Maybe she's right.
There is always the possibility they are a harbinger--like the dead rats which precede outbreaks of the plague, the Black Death, Yesina Pestis.
But even if it's not anything ominous for humankind, the dead seals thing feels wrong. It's as if nature is out of whack.
I don't know why I don't like it. But I don't like it.