There are fewer grey seals in the world than endangered African elephants, but the British Isles host almost half of this global population. Every year these charismatic animals, with their expressive eyes and whiskers more sensitive than our fingertips, haul out on our shores to breed and raise their pups.
As graceful in the sea as they might seem clumsy on land, grey seals have visited our shores and enriched our culture for centuries. Yet we still know relatively little about these captivating animals. As Susan Richardson journeys to the crags and crevices of the coast, she explores the mysteries and mythologies of seals, learning not just how they live but also how we ought to live with them.
PRAISE FOR SUSAN RICHARDSON’Cut and precise, archaic and innovative, transcendent and in-the-moment, [Richardson] sees the life of the sea as a mirror of ourselves, and vice versa: always changing, always the same … Vital, glorious and salutary’PHILIP HOARE, AUTHOR OF LEVIATHAN'[Richardson] writes in prehensile language, capable of grasping something vast, ancient, chthonic: the Earth in must’JAY GRIFFITHS, AUTHOR OF WILD’Richardson beautifully marries the landscape of the polar regions with their – and her own – emotional topography’SARA WHEELERSusan Richardson has always been entranced by seals; they seem to have surfaced at key junctions throughout her life, comforting her as an anxious child, bringing joy as she began to spread her wings as a writer and helping her to find her way after the loss of her mother. Now she sets out to trace the rhythm of their lives, travelling the coasts clockwise from Cornwall to Norfolk, in line with the autumn pupping season. Along the way she explores the myths surrounding seals, from their shapeshifting selkie skins to the claims that they decimate fish populations, and she discovers that the greatest dangers they face come from co-existing with us.
Brimming with vivid descriptions of the natural world, Where the Seals Sing is a lyrical tale of memory, rescue and rehabilitation. While loss, both personal and ecological, is a recurring theme, the human-seal connection that flows through the story is stirring and uplifting.