Tale of Dark Encounter Earns Bude Man Story Prize

Bude man Peter Raison has scooped the regional cash prize from the National Seal Sanctuary in a nationwide Fishermen's Tales challenge.

Peter from Mortwenstow earned the 150 prize with his account of a surprise meeting with a slumbering grey seal sixty metres into a pitch black Cornish sea cave.

"Many Cornish grey seals actually breed in such caves," said Sanctuary seal expert Tamara Cooper, "but Peter was not aware of that, and his encounter was so far in it would have been notable anyway.

"The way he relayed the story also made it gripping from start to finish. He's a very worthy winner."

The cave Peter and a regular dive buddy decided to explore had its entrance 10 metres below the water line not far from Boscastle.

"I tied my reel line to a rock and we both swam in," said Peter. "Most coastal caves are not that long, so I was surprised when my line ran out and I had to attach my buddy's line to continue."

When the cave had narrowed to a mere one-and-a-half metres across and the pair were about 62 metres in, Peter was astonished to see what he'd first assumed to be large grey rock in front of him suddenly move.

"It rose up from the sand and casually swam up to me and stopped nose to nose," he recalled.

He went on to describe how the seal then swam further into the cave, and then back again, pausing while Peter flattened himself against the side to allow it to pass.

Another 10 metres in Peter discovered a small air pocket, which he assumed the seal must have used from time to time before resuming its underwater snooze on a submerged sandy shelf.

"What would a single large grey seal be doing 62 metres up a cave tunnel in several metres of water, lying down apparently having a rest?" wondered Peter.

Another entry from St Ives man Harding Laity told of an eventful 'haul fishing' experience in an island cove in the Far East, when he was serving on an aircraft carrier off Korea.

A first haul yielded so many mackerel that a second was tried, with several of the ships hands paddling behind the net to keep fish moving towards the shore.

"Suddenly the net erupted, the chaps dashing for the shore while our net threshed and turned in our hands.

"We had landed a 3.5 metre shark."

Needless to say the ship's crew dined on shark steaks that evening, which came as a welcome change after several week's rations of rissoles!

Others of the 10-strong Sea Life and Sanctuary network attracted many more sea stories.

There was a close encounter with a Humpbacked whale in Weymouth, and another with a Minke whale in Filey bay.

There was the discovery of a body that turned out to be a mannequin in scuba gear off Northumberland, and even a story all the way from Nova Scotia about a near sinking caused by the distraction of a porpoise trying to revive a stillborn pup.

Peter Raison's story will be added to others collected from around the UK for publication on the Sea Life website www.sealifeeirope.com.

It will also be judged alongside other regional entries for an overall national prize of 500.
Issued by The National Seal Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Rachael Vine on 01326 221361
Press Release date: 1st May 2008

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