The baby harbor seal inched its way ever so slowly away from the water and higher up on the beach. It appeared slightly more than a foot long with a small softball sized head, protruding ribs and not yet with any blubber characteristic of a harbor seal. We stood still, anxiously watching the large incoming wave. CRASH! The wave broke, and the baby disappeared. We held our breath. Mama seal frantically tried to locate her baby as her cries echoed along the shore.
Seconds later, baby’s head broke the surface, and mom swam towards her. Baby appeared to latch onto mom’s tail as mom again attempted a swim towards the shore. Just as mom’s belly inched up onto the sand and the crowd let out a hopeful sigh of relief, the next wave crashed. Baby tumbled forward and crashed into a rock. Her body was thrown into the air revealing a bloody gash along her belly. We continued to watch with wide eyes as baby regained her footing, and mom inched towards baby as fast as her body would travel. A loud gasp could be heard, and then silence swept over the crowd. Before mom could shelter baby and protect her from harm, the next wave over took them both, and the pair disappeared out into the ocean.
This heart wrenching scene continued to repeat itself over and over this afternoon as my daughter and I, along with many others, stood along the shore for over a half hour. Although Darwin’s theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest swirled in my scientific mind, my heart ached for mom and baby as only a mother’s heart could. The amazing power of Mother Nature was pitted against the survival of both mom and baby. As the minutes wore on, mom’s fatigue was becoming evident, and her cries grew louder. The tiny baby, still so heavily reliant upon her mother, was not strong enough to meet Mother Nature’s challenge. The massive power of the ocean was overtaking the baby. The brave mother, with all her strength and love, continued to face the challenge of the powerful ocean. Her source of food had now become her greatest danger.
We all face challenges each day. Some are private and held deep in our hearts and minds. Others, as in the mother and baby seal, are very public. Some challenges are big. Some are small. No matter what challenge you face, you owe it to yourself and others to give it your best effort and put forth 100% of yourself. You need to feel confident that you have tried your best. That is all you can ask of yourself. That is all anyone can ask of you. And that is exactly what mother seal did.
As the tide started to recede, we continued on our walk. I held my daughter’s hand a bit tighter. Mother seal overcame Mother Nature’s challenge today.