During lockdown so many of us had the opportunity to spend a lot more time with nature. This came in many forms, from growing our own vegetables, watching the birds come and go from our garden, taking our daily walk with the silence that came with no cars on the road. It gave us a new sense of meaning and allowed us to reconnect with the planet earth.

To no surprise wildlife thrived during lockdown. Corfe Castle had its first Peregrine nest in 20 years, an increase in barn owl nests around the south of Dorset, Hares, stoats and weasels sighted in normally tourist hotspots and badger cubs seen exploring their surroundings in the middle of the day. So when lockdown measures eased it wasn’t particularly surprising to hear Weymouth had a seal resting upon its beach.

As time has gone by you have been able to see the change in behaviour to the seal now widely known as Sammy. At first he was able to relax on the beach with a handful of people watching him as he entered and left the water. Now he is surrounded by sometimes 50+ people who follow him up and down the beach. It is an absolutely incredible experience to see a seal on the beach of Weymouth. Never have we seen something like this before. However, we must learn from our experiences during lockdown, appreciate nature from a distance. The reason Sammy is here is because it was quiet and peaceful and there was nobody about. Sammy is a wild creature who needs to remain wild. The more we attempt to play with him in the water or stroke him on the beach the more damaging it is for his future.

Reports from Facebook are that we have already had one seal die recently further down the coast near Ringstead. So let’s watch Sammy from a far, when he moves down the beach appreciate that you had that moment with him and carry on with your day. If he approaches you in the water, exit slowly and refrain from playing with him or putting it on Tik Tok. There is a reason we have volunteers protecting him.

Think back to lockdown, remember how we wanted a world where nature thrived alongside us. For that to happen we need to respect it and give it its space. Appreciate Sammy the seal from a distance, leave the water if he approaches you, do not follow him up and down the beach and do not crowd around him all day. He is magnificent, he is beautiful but he needs to shed his coat and return to his family.

Sam Cridland

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