A History of the fund ... continued
Less than an hour after leaving Glasgow, I was sitting on a rocky islet, twenty feet behind Fiona as she played her violin. First one dark head broke the surface, then another and another and yet another. In ten minutes at least 25 seals had gathered to listen to the music. Heads held high above the water, they drifted past on the tide, dived and swum back to their starting point to float past once again.
With Fiona, instead of peddling the horror of seal shootings, I had a new and far more attractive image to promote. Television, radio and newspaper reporters queued to visit Islay and see the woman who sang to the seals. By controlling these visits and ensuring the presence of outsiders did not disturb the seal colony, it was possible to open the eyes of a much wider public to the beauty of seals and the ugliness of how humans persecute them.
This was very important after that first virus epidemic faded out. The major organisations all disappeared from the Scottish scene and the fish farmers, salmon netsmen and salmon angling bodies dusted down their rifles and restarted the silent slaughter of the seals. With Fiona's help we continue to draw attention to this needless cruelty.
Thousands of seals are still shot every year. Seals have even been fed fish booby-trapped with explosives and razor blades. In December 1995, 25 baby grey seals were illegally shot and killed at South Ronaldsay, Orkney. Ignoring the fact that human overfishing threatens the very existence of our marine ecosystem there are growing calls for a mass cull of as many as fifty thousand seals. It has even been suggested that seal meat is turned into pet food and their penises sold to China as aphrodisiacs.
In 1996 it was decided that the Save Scotland's Seals Fund should become a stand-alone organisation. Renamed the Save Our Seals Fund and with a new Constitution it was recognised as a Scottish charity on 26th November 1996. While Animal Concern continues to campaign for changes in the law to protect seals the Save Our Seals Fund concentrates on supporting small seal rescue units and educating the public on how to protect seals and their marine environment.
You can read about how we help the sanctuaries elsewhere on this site. At the moment we are desperately trying to raise funds to replace the seal rescue boat on Islay. In the long term my dream is to see a large dedicated sea mammal protection vessel based in Scotland. We have thousands of miles of coastline, Europe's biggest seal population and resident and visiting populations of whales and dolphins. Our seas are being over-plundered for commercial gain and it is only through the support of good people like you that we can protect the people of the sea and their fragile environment. Human exploitation and destruction of the marine ecosystem threatens all life on earth.
John F. Robins, Secretary, Save Our Seals Fund October 2002