The indomitability of the human spirit

If you’re a sciencey person, or even if you’re not, I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed sometimes by the awesome majesty of the universe, or the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

I was reduced to an uncharacteristic silence on a cliff top earlier today, watching grey seals on a beach below. The beachmaster male sat at the very edge of the surf, guarding a harem of females and their quite grown-up pups.

We shared a spot on the fence with an old boy in a cap and driving coat. His wife shuffled slowly towards us from the car park.

“You’re not missing much,” he grumbled.

She stared down for a few moments, and concluded, “It’s much better on the telly”.

In a way, I admired them. It takes a certain amount of backbone to share a moment with a wild mammal, even at that distance, and remain unmoved. On the other hand, if Simon King had been there, I imagine he would have pushed them both off the edge.


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