April 15, 2011
Of Three Baby Seals, Only One Survives
We promise him we will end this slaughter
by Rebecca Aldworth
We watch, grieving, as seal pup after seal pup is shot, impaled, dragged, bludgeoned, and sliced open.
So quickly, the few pups who have survived the disastrous ice conditions this year are being slaughtered. Lives that have only just begun are being ended, brutally, by greed.
On an ice pan, three baby seals sleep near each other. Two have already shed their white coats, and their soft new silver fur is gleaming in the sun. The third, a few days younger, is still almost entirely covered in white fur.
They are so peaceful and entrancing that, for a moment, we almost forget the sealing boat nearby.
Then, horribly, the peace is shattered as a shot blasts across the ice. One of the silvery pups is hit, and she stops moving. The other two babies try to scramble away, their eyes panicked. They don't understand what is happening here, but they know someone means them harm.
Another bullet rips into the second pup and his frantic attempt to escape is cut short.
The third baby seal cries and struggles forward as quickly as he can.
We watch, agonized, as the sealers take aim at him. But for some reason, they don't shoot. Perhaps the white fur covering him is a deterrent to these sealers, though it has not been to others. Maybe the desperate attempt by this young pup to get away shames them.
But whatever the reason, the rifles are lowered. The baby seal watches from a distance as his friends are impaled and dragged onto the boat in a trail of blood.
What next for this seal pup?
I wonder if he will live through the coming days. For soon his white fur will be entirely gone, and his new silver coat will be a target on his back.
I hope with everything in me that he survives. I promise him fiercely that if he evades the sealers this year, I will make this place safe for him and all of his kind.
As the sun sets on another day, we return home determined to make good on that promise.
Rebecca Aldworth is executive director of Humane Society International/Canada (HSI Canada).