Have you ever wondered why the Common Seal with its beautiful large round heartmelting eyes wins you over before you even know it? This is one of the many tales about the Ark of Noah. But it is also a moving tale about unconditional mother love.
In long gone times when the earth was being flooded by waves, Noah built a large boat to save animals from certain death by drowning. In his ark was room for one female and one male of every species. So there were two voles, two weasels, two squirrels, two foxes and many many more. At the very last moment the wife of Noah realized they were missing one couple: there were no dogs. She hurried outside where the rain continued to sheet down relentlessly out of the ominous dark clouds.
Just at that moment a pair of dogs walked past. Noah’s wife called out: “Dogs, the earth is about to disappear under these endless floods. Come aboard our ark, we still have place for two dogs.” The bitch answered happily:”We’ll quickly go and fetch our puppies. They’re safe and sound in the hayloft of a barn nearby.” Dismayed, Noah’s wife responded that there was only room for two dogs, a couple, and that they’d have to leave their children behind. The dogs were shocked; this was an impossible choice. What should they do? The mother dog thought about her nest of puppies and how sweetly they looked at her with their round eyes and responded without any further hesitation: “Then I’m not going with you. I’m not leaving my children behind!” But the father dog understood that not going on board that boat meant certain death for them all and cried out: “If we don’t go with them, we’ll all die!” The bitch, however, was not to be deterred and said: “If you want to survive that much, then go ahead,” upon which she turned and headed back for her puppies in the barn.
The dog hesitated for a moment but then made too his decision and followed a beautiful bitch on board that had also heard Noah’s wife call. As the water rose higher and higher, the mother dog warmed her three little ones and reassured them with kind words.
God saw this from above in heaven and was deeply touched by her unconditional mother love. To spare their lives He let the mother and children undergo a transformation: their front paws became fins, the hairy coat a thick fat skin and the tail a tail fin. The earth was flooded, but the mother dog and her young were saved because they had turned into water animals! To this very day seals live in the water and touch humans hearts as they once touched God’s. Many of their offspring continue to swim around all the great seas of the world, pausing now and then to rest on the beaches and sandbanks.
With their razor sharp teeth and sharp nails the Seal is our country’s largest predator. The Common Seal lives mainly in the estuaries of rivers. Its sensitive whiskers can detect a fish swimming at a great distance by tuning into the vibrations in the water.
They can literally accelerate from 0 to 35 kilometres per hour in a matter of seconds and dive to a depth of 100 metres. These seals are as big as an average human being and way about 120 kilos. Healthy males can live to be 24; females to even 40.
By hunting them for their meat and coats, the seal has almost become extinct. Because he is a natural rival for the fishing industry: an adult seal catches about 5 kilos of fish per day. In 1959 there were only 1,000 animals left in Dutch waters. In 1962 a hunting ban was issued, but water pollution followed by two viral epidemics resulted in their numbers dropping further to 500. Nature and environmental measures have restored the population to the current level of 6,000 in the Wadden See and 500 in the Schelde Delta. The larger Grey Seal disappeared from our waters in the Middle Ages through over hunting, but has re-established itself in smaller numbers since the 1990’s.
© Els Baars, Natuurverhalen.nl