Before I go any further, I should remind myself that I have the same thought every year.
It’s about the right time for basking sharks.
Of course, we rarely see them, but what’s life without hope? Marine wildlife, I’ve decided, is my utter favourite. Dolphins off of Nare Head, porpoises at Porthcurnick, and whales in the Bay of Biscay. In my least fanciful moments, I dream that I was a seal in another life.
It was a strange day. I’d hoped it would not rain. The mist came down as we drove to Carne, as if the world comprised entirely of twisting road and green hedges, with trees silhouetted in the gloom. We had the beach nearly to ourselves. And as we paused to regard the gulls on the water, the thought came to me: it’s about the right time of year for basking sharks. Almost instantly, I noticed a strange black shape in the water. Not like a fin. I thought perhaps some debris, or a buoy – but these things are always worth checking. Indeed, as my dad peered through his binoculars, I almost lost interest. But it was, of course, a basking shark.
Was it a sign? Had I conjured it there? Wished hard enough to bring it into being? If I could wish that hard, there are other things I’d wish for! So, a rare moment of cruel good fortune, right when I needed it the least and the most.
We watched and walked and watched again. The shark was quite happy, swimming in circles after krill. Nobody else on the beach appeared to notice it. It’s unusual for us to spot something so good and leave before it, waving goodbye as we drive up the hill.
Header: View of Nare Head from Carne beach, Cornwall, winter 2012.