It’s been said, “The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members.” Variations on this have been attributed to Ghandi, Pearl Buck, and Pope John Paul, among others. But they were speaking about the poor, the children, the elderly, the infirm. Maybe it’s time we think about all beings as members our civilization and how we treat all of them that will define our “measure.”
This weekend we had a wee visitor to our doorstep that encouraged me. It was a seal pup that graced our sands. It came to just bask and roll and twist, then squiggle back into the sea. I was there on Sunday.
We Long Beach, NY dwellers have had a rush of sea-life flourishing off our shores and it gives us all a rush. The sea has been bubbling with breaching life of whales, porpoises, seals, oh…yeah!
In the past our Northeast seacoasts haven’t had the best reputation with stuff of lady hygiene, or hypo-needles or untold tonnage of plastics amidst the tidewrack.
But that was of another era. As I walk our beaches I’ve seen evidence of a lot of us getting the message. I marvel at the clarity of the surf lately. People are more conscious of the impact we make on our shores and its inhabitants. We seem to be realizing that we too are shore dwellers and it is our habitat, our home that we share with these beings. There has been a swelling in the number of people who care and it now it seems we are at an envirocrest from which we will not turn back.
Yesterday morning a baby seal, ventured onto our sands between Roosevelt Ave and Neptune Blvd. They’re really, “pups” and can live as long as 25 years. Our Long Beach Animal Control was alerted and as usual responded promptly. People gathered to look and take photos of the little adventurer. Animal Control and Long Beach Police taped off the basking area to keep the sea-tyke safe.
Animal Control Officer, Brian Biller, told how he had to deter an eager child who wanted to approach the seal. He told me, “Seals do bite and the bite causes instant infection.” He said this was because “a seal is a fish eater and fish eaters carry infections in their bites.” He said, “That’s why it’s safer to be bitten by a dog than a cat as the cats eat fish and also have very pointed teeth.”
Brian said he’s had about six calls concerning seals on our beaches so far this year. Sometimes as many as 30 or 40 a season lately. He’s been involved in animal care since he was 17, he’s 31 now. That’s the kind of Long Beach staff we need to keep and appreciate, the dedicated. Animal Control has limited staff, just two officers. Brian said he’s been working on three hours of sleep today.
But I gotta say, he was very alert to his current assignment, keeping people at bay, so to speak. Even me. I was well outside the tape, I surely didn’t want to harass. But Brian felt our guest was being disturbed, so I moved back. Good to remember, curb your enthusiasm. Fortunately I had a 300 mm Nikor lens so I could get some pretty good shots even from the greater distance.
He said the tot seal probably came out of the water to bask in the sun and raise its core temp. It does so because the sea is so cold this time of year. The Long Beach water temp is 40º right now. He said its mom was no doubt right off shore.
Saturday, the pup stayed ashore for about half the day. Sunday, at 10:30, Brian watched as the seal safely and slowly worked its way back to the sea about to reunite with Mom. A job well done by both Brian and the pup. And a job well done by all of us beach denizens who work to improve our habitat. Oh, yeah.
You might like, “She Blows, The Whales of October”:http://tinyurl.com/Whales11