I went for the beach walk at high tide intentionally—I figured if I could get around the three rocky points at high tide, I’d be able to get past them on the way back, when the ocean had receded a bit more.
It was the second of these points, the one I had forgotten was there actually, where it happened. I was concentrating on my footing along the rocks. As I rounded part of the point, I came almost face to face with a baby seal that had apparently washed up onto the rocks. We looked at each other, both a bit surprised, it seemed. I figured it had accidentally washed up with the tide, which was now a bit lower, leaving it stranded there.
Then I saw the blood. Lodged into its abdomen was what appeared to be a large, four pronged hook of some sort. But this ‘fishhook’ was more the size of a decent sized pocketknife. There was a bit of line hanging from it.
The seal didn’t seemed distressed about my proximity, but still, I wasn’t sure I wanted to get close enough to try to remove the hook. Plus, it appeared to be pretty well lodged.
It looked as though I wasn’t going to be able to do anything to help the seal with its wound. But I couldn’t just leave it there to die. It continued to look me in the eye. I thought about trying to get help. There was no one else on the beach. Then I saw a long strand of kelp.
I got the kelp, figuring that maybe I could somehow get it under the seal, and then try to drag it the five or so feet across the rocks to the edge of the water. It didn’t seem the best plan, but I didn’t have many other options.
Using my mad lassoing skills I tried to get the kelp around the most inland part of the seal, which was its head. The seal didn’t appreciate this and started to move away from the offense—and toward the water. The first few feet were slow going, but it managed to crawl across the rocks.
As it got closer a bigger wave came in and lapped at its head, which was now ocean facing. Once the baby seal could feel the water, it seemed encouraged, and crawled a bit further. The water receded. The seal seemed to be logged between two larger rocks, and the fishhook wound dragging along the rocks didn’t look pleasant.
As I was wondering how I might help it dislodge from the rocks a wave came in, large enough for the seal to float itself out of the wedged position. It began to swim.
I stood and watched the seal swim out into the surf. The sun, which had been covered, broke through the clouds.
Then I wept.