Where am I? And whose clothes are these?!
In 1978 Orkney's seal population became the centre of a battle between public opinion and the government of the day. The drop in salmon catches around the coast of Scotland at the time was blamed on the number of grey seals in the seas around Orkney, with the result that Scottish Secretary Bruce Millan announced that there would be a cull of the adult and young seal population when around a third of the total population would be killed.
But Mr. Millan had made a huge mistake in underestimating the people's love of the seal, and what's not to love? Okay I imagine their breath's not great but apart from that they're pretty loveable. Anyway, opposition grew very quickly in the islands, petitions were signed and newspapers reported that volunteers were flocking to throw themselves bodily in front of the hunters.
A touch of glamour and star quality was added with the arrival of popular actress Jessica Benton, seen above looking a bit dazed and confused. "Jessica who?" I can hear all you youngsters asking but let me tell you that back in the olden days Sunday nights were not complete without the latest episode of The Onedin Line, an everyday tale of seafaring folk in which Jessica played Elizabeth Onedin. Relive the tremendously stirring opening titles at http://youtu.be/Vx7RWW36wes.
Anyway, back to the seals. On 30 September Greenpeace arrived in their new boat Rainbow Warrior, at around the same time the hunters arrived in a boat of their own. A game of cat and mouse then ensued with the hunters setting off in dinghies hotly pursued by Greenpeace members in their own dinghies, only for the hunters to return to their boat. And then, as tension was mounting by the day, the Secretary of State for Scotland succumbed to the pressure. He announced that, due to “widespread public concern” he was dispensing with the services of the Norwegian hunters. The cull of adult grey seals was to be abandoned and the number of pups would be reduced to the levels already existing locally. And everybody lived happily ever after. The end.