Friday, 31 August 2007

Alfie The Seal - A Further (Not So Happy) Update

One of the best things about the internet is the interaction between total strangers, and the way it makes it possible to obtain and/or pass on information between people that would otherwise have no way of contacting each other.

Following my story about "Alfie" the seal and it's subsequent update a lady called Sue has spotted my pictures of the seal on my Flickr photos and passed on the following messages.

Hi Wurzel
Just thought you'd like to know, this is definitely not one of the Sanctuary released seals. Neither is his name Alfie - all St Ives seals seem to be called Alfie! He is a seal known to the Cornwall Seal Group ( as DP144 White Propeller. He was first identified on 17/02/04 and has been seen 36 times since. He is seen on the east side of the bay in the early and late part of the year. The only time he has been seen in the Summer months is at the Carracks - which is where you saw him I think? We don't know where he spends the rest of his year. He is a young adult male seal with a big appetite! Unfortunately he has learned that he can get easy meals from boats - after being fed by people in St Ives harbour. Associating boats with food can have disasterous consequences for seals, so his behaviour is very worrying. Thanks so much for posting your excellent photos and videos. I will add your sighting to our seal database.

Hi Wurzel - just posted a comment on your other photo of 'Alfie' and realised that it looks like he has already suffered as a result of his interactions with people and boats in the harbour. This photo seems to show a small wound that has been bleeding recently on the right side of his neck. I have seen this sort of injury before caused by mackerel line hooks. We really need to try to persuade people that feeding wild seals in harbours encourages the seals to change their behaviour. This so often results in the seal becoming injured. It is a sad story for such a beautiful photo!

So it seems like "Alfie" and maybe others like him could be suffering through the boat trip organisers exploiting their behaviour to make their trips more popular with no regard for the seal's wellbeing. No doubt we aren't the only gullible tourists unaware of the consequences, I feel quite sad that we had not realised at the time.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Respect At Anfield

A while back I criticised Liverpool fan's for their behaviour at this year's European Cup Final in Athens. Today I am happy to say that they have redeemed themselves.

The Liverpool and Everton rivalry is one of the more friendly ones in British football. Beating each other on the the pitch is for some the be all and end all of their season but once the final whistle blows there seems to be a (possibly grudging) mutual admiration for each other. This was summed up perfectly following the tragic consequences of the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989 - the loss of 96 Liverpool fans was felt just as deeply by their rivals as it was themselves. It seemed fitting that they played each other in that years final, with both sets of fans singing "Merseyside" together throughout the game.

This week, due another tragic event, the fans have again shown great solidarity. Following the senseless murder of 11 year old Rhys Jones ( an Everton fan) - shot dead as he returned home from football training - Everton themselves and their fans paid their respects on Saturday with a minutes applause for the young lad. Last night Liverpool fans showed their solidarity. At Liverpool fans' request Everton's theme tune Johnny Todd (better known as the theme from Z-Cars) was played before the teams came out at Anfield. Members of the Jones family received an emotional standing ovation as they stood on the pitch in their Everton strip. It's a cliché I know, but as the tune played over the speakers - something most probably thought would never happen at that ground - the respectful silence was deafening. The applause afterwards definitely was. As I listened live on the radio I couldn't help but think back to the time Portsmouth fan's showed how low they could stoop by ruining a minutes silence for club stalwart Ted Bates OBE - yet they make claims to be the best supporters in the land. Hopefully a few would have hung their heads in shame last night.

It some ways it was a little surreal. It was the type of occasion usually reserved to remember a deceased player or respected figure. Yet this was for an 11 year old boy, probably never even heard of by the vast majority until his untimely death. I guess this was a way for 40,000 people to show not just their support for Rhys' family but also their disgust for what happened - maybe just maybe this could be the trigger for everyday people to finally stand up against the gun thugs destroying our communities. Clearly the government has no serious intention of tackling the problem.

The video above is a fans eye view of last nights event . Not the best visual quality ever but just listening to it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Don't Try This At Home

I defy anyone to watch this without cringing.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Elvis Lives - yawn

No !. He doesn't.
The guy died 30 years ago. I'm sick to death of hearing about him - yet again - this week.
Ok , he might have been original when he first hit the big time - original in a "white man steal black man's music" kinda way - but he was never more than an average pub singer talent wise.
I'm sure the biggest reason for the longevity of his popularity is that damned anagram.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Alfie Update

Simon from has kindly contacted me regarding my previous post . He has heard about Alfie before and has passed me the details, the full story can be found HERE.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

No Sign Of The Shark

We had a great week down in Cornwall, luckily picking the best week of the year so far weather-wise.

We packed loads into our seven days. Probably our favourite "day out" was a boat trip from St. Ives harbour to Seal Island a few miles down the coast. Just getting aboard was an adventure in itself, with the tide going out we had to be rowed out to meet our boat in a small rowing boat. Twelve of us finally clambered aboard to join the skipper and off we went . There was plenty of bravado regarding the media's favourite summer silly story beforehand, but strangely things went rather quiet as we crossed the bay where the great white had allegedly been filmed. Suddenly a large fin was spotted in the water about 20yards from our boat. Whatever it was was huge, about 4ft between dorsal fin and tail, but it soon became obvious it was no shark, the fin was far too floppy. The skipper later confirmed it to be a sunfish.

Advertised as a "see the seals" trip I fully expected a few indistinct blobs in the distance. I was happy to be proved wrong. Approaching the island a large seal (I'd guess at 8-9ft long) was spotted basking on a rock. As we came closer it soon became apparent that it wasn't alone, around 30 or 40 huge seals (I had no idea they were so big) were serenely sunning themselves only 20 ft or so from our boat. Then, to everyone's surprise , out swam Alfie. Alfie is the only one of the group (what is the collective noun for seals ?) happy to approach the boats . It is thought he may have been injured and looked after at one of the local seal sanctuaries before being released back into the wild, hence his lack of fear of humans. He swam right out to our boat and one by one stared each and everyone of us in the eye. He clearly knew that there would be a few fish coming his way and all the kids aboard took turns throwing them out for him to dive for and basically show off to his latest audience.

This was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday - the boat trip itself was well worth the money, but seeing such a creature up close in it's natural habitat was a sight we''ll never forget. If you fancy meeting Alfie look out for the touts around St. Ives harbour - we went with Sea Horse boat trips but there may well be others. Apparently the best time to view the seals is as the tide is on it's way out exposing the rocks. We were lucky, we timed it right purely by chance but it may be worth checking the tide times to avoid disappointment.

My video of Alfie