Bones - will he ever stop saying thanks
by Francois Hugo - Seal Alert-SA

From: SealAlertSA
Subject: Bones - Is this not special or what ?
Date: August 17, 2006

Bones - will he ever stop saying thanks

     Eight years ago shortly after acquiring our 60ft - 60 ton Norwegian fishing vessel to convert into a live-a-abroad for my wife Nelda and I, and our planned cruise around the world. We came across the terrible plight of these Cape fur seals. They changed forever, our path in life. 'Sweety' became our first rescued seal, but not long after in mid August another seal arrived.
    I first spotted him coming down the harbour channel in August 1999, in rolling flipper over flipper swim patterns, that has now become a distinctive sign of a seal very weak. Without any encouragement whatsoever, this pathetic, of a once amazing robust and healthy living seal - hauled his broken and tired body abroad our raft tied alongside our boat, and lay down to die.
   I feed, nurtured and encouraged him to live - and after many, many months - he did. Once a skeleton of skin and bones, hence his name - 'Bones' blossomed into a thoroughbred of a bull seal, shining pitch black in colour - eyes full of life once again. After a time during his rehabilitation he moved permanently off the raft, and took upon station alongside, doing repeated head over hind flipper circles, constantly - in the dirty polluted harbour water. Each time his head swung around, he would try and attract my attention and make eye to eye contact - through the slime, oil and surface muck. I was initially very concerned with this unusual swim pattern - as I was afraid he might drive himself completely mad.
   After some months, 'Bones' simply vanished into the deep blue yonder. My second only seal rescued had disappeared for good.
   The following August 'Bones' was back - and how I distinguished him from all the others of hundreds of seals since rescued, was his repeated head over flipper turns desperate to attract my attention once again. 'Bones' would stay a few weeks, which involved at least twice a day making sure "we connected" before heading out the harbour in his daily routine.
   No matter where I moved within the harbour, and I have been forced to re-locate to several different locations around the harbour - 'Bones' would somehow find me each mid-August.
   Stay for a few short weeks and then disappear. Where or how far I will never know, but what I did know somewhere deep in the back of 'Bones' mind he would always be thinking of me - somewhere out there.
   It is now the eighth year since 'Bones' rescue - and sure enough, on my way to feed 'Mumkin' this morning I spotted this seal, alongside a jetty I seldom use - doing those distinctive head over flipper turns - and once again for the 8th year in a row we connected as two species should.
   With the average lifespan of a seal in the wild of just thirteen years, 'Bones' must be getting quite old. He is one of over five thousand reasons why I have never left this 'Seal Hating' fishing harbour even for a day.
   I will always wonder when 'Bones' will ever stop saying thanks - and I hope he never does.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seals
Seal Alert-SA