Seal or Selkie?

In Scottish mythology, selkies live as seals in the oceans. They can shed their fur and assume human forms when they come ashore. They are said to be incredibly beautiful. A fairy tale is told about a hunter who met a beautiful woman on the beach. He fell in love with her and soon afterwards the two married. But the young woman was seized by the longing for the sea and she fetched her fur again on the beach, put it on, and turned into a seal. Later the hunter, her own husband, shot this seal because he had no idea who she really was. With that he had unwittingly killed his beloved wife.

In the arctic regions the inuit have always hunted seals as sources of food and raw materials. This subsistence hunting did not pose a major threat to seal populations and it is still allowed in some measure today. However, in the late 18th century, corporations developed modern mass hunting techniques. The number of seals killed in the Arctic and Southern Oceans reached unimaginable levels. For example, in the Juan Fernández Islands, 250,000 fur seals were killed each year, destroying one of the world’s largest colonies in just fifteen years.

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