Steve Jones once described Finland as 'a dilute solution of land in water'...Many thousands of years ago, when the Finnish landmass was weighed down by glacial ice sheets Saimaa [the largest of its lakes] had opened onto the Baltic Sea, and now it was home to a relict of its marine past that had become trapped as the land rose again after the retreat of the ice. This animal [the Saimaa Ringed Seal] was called norpaa in Finnish, and was extremely rare; when I was a child it was estimated that there may only be 100 norppa left in the huge lake, because although it was one of Finland's most-loved animals, it had been heavily hunted in the past century....-- from Witness to Extinction: How We Failed to Save the Yangtse River Dolphin by Sam Turvey
And then, one day out on the lake, fishing with my uncle under a huge blue sky, there it was. I looked up from the red and white cork bobbing beside the boat to see a whiskered snout and inquisitive black eyes peering back at me out of the water, out near the skerries close to the shipping channel and far from shore. Then, maybe only a second later, the shiny wet seal disappeared again into the tea-black waters of Saimaa. I never saw it again.
19 September 2009
Posted by Caspar Henderson at 17:28
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