I have been on the small Greek island of Alonissos now for 8 days and enjoyed every minute of it. But the other day something happened to make this visit very special.
I woke up at about 7 as I do every day and went out on our terrace which has a commanding view over the Town of Patitiri and its beautiful harbor. I heard an unusual commotion and looked out almost straight across at the town beach. It was FULL of people just standing and loooking out at the water and making all kinds of noise. What is going on? I saw a small head bobbing in the water and wondered why more people weren’t swimming...no one was in the water. I thought nothing more of this until near dinner time...
We stopped by one of our favorite places on the waterfront to have a cold beer in an iced mug (yes my fellow Americans the Greeks know something about COLD beer) and the waiter asked if we had seen the Seal? It was at this moment on the beach. So we got up to go take a look. Sure enough a group of people were gathered at the shore line and there was this full grown European Monk Seal swimming around and letting people pet it. Now at first I am wary of this behavior and don’t want to contribute to any problems the animal may already have...so we stood back and watched. But my fears soon faded away.
The Seal would lie in the gentle surf and let the waves roll him up to shore where he would poke his head out of the water and look at you with those big wet dark, earnest eyes regarding you with what seemed to be real interest and hope...yes hope. Some sat in the water and petted him and some got waist deep, he seemed to want to swim with people. He would swim around their legs and try to get them to go with him, then swim back and try again. He went up and down the line of admirers getting as much attention as he could and I had to admit he was clearly enjoying this interaction with the humans.
I asked the waiter who was standing there about the Seal and why he came and got this story:
The Seals parents or most likely the Mother was killed when he was just a pup, very very young and the Seal Rescue organization on the Island took him in and raised him. Then when he became old enough they set him free. He lives a regular Seal Life they say and shows up on Skopelos now and then but comes to Alonissos about once a month to visit with the humans.
My guess is he misses his human “parents” and sees us as benevolent beings who will not harm him. He obviously enjoys the human contact and you can see it in those expressive eyes and the playfulness he exhibits in the water. After about another hour he left. He had been here almost all day coming and going to and from the beach or out to the sea to eat and then back again. I suppose the sea and his seal life were calling again and it was time to go...