Follow the brown signs
Today the Olympic flame has crossed the Irish sea and nipped across to Scotland, the country it will call “home” for the next 5 days, and what a lucky torch it is. It’s hard not to love the West coast of Scotland, it’s scenery, people and remoteness are all so beguiling, it’s the kind of place that demands you take it all in and enjoy it slowly and quietly so it’s absolutely the kind of place I long to be. I’ve spent many a happy week climbing rugged rain beaten mountains while acquiring trench foot and supping whiskey in far too many distilleries to mention, so today’s blog isn’t going to be hard for me.
However, I am going to shirk my normal way of choosing a destination (by looking at where the torch is on the live location tool) and instead I’m going to take you on a special little detour to a very topical brown signed destination in honour of World Oceans Day.
Since 2002 The Ocean Project and The World Ocean Network have been working together to celebrate and increase awareness of the importance of our oceans on an international scale on the 8th of June. Sea covers over 70% of our planet, it is integral to the way we as humans live and they connect us all. World Oceans Day brings together people who work in and around the seven seas on serious matters like over fishing, pollution and rising sea levels but it also provides a fun and engaging hook for lay people like us to get interested in ocean matters, to see what how the state of our oceans affects us all and the difference we can make by conserving and enjoying them properly, and maybe even have a day out an an aquarium to celebrate.
So today I’m bending my self imposed rules a bit to feature an important and watery brown signed attraction of the day: The Scottish Sea Life Santuary in Oban. We’re only around 100 miles from the torch destination of Glasgow and we’re still on the west coast of Scotland so I think we can make it count 😉
This sanctuary was first opened in the early ’80s when a seal was bought up from Suffolk (random origin I know) to be nursed to health and then released back into the wild. From then on seals and other sea creatures including otters have come from all around to country to be cared for by expert sea creature vets and returned to the sea when they get better. The seas around Oban are full of grey and common seals so the sanctuary is never short of residents. The centre expanded even more last year when a specialist turtle sanctuary was opened on receiving a consignment from Gatwick of illegally imported turtles. The privately owned centre has been taken over by SEA LIFE who run sealife centres and aquariums across the globe, but this sanctuary is only one of 3 SEA LIFE sanctuaries in the world, the others are in Norfolk and Gweek, Cornwall (one of my personal favourites as it holds special memories of my first ever brown signing days many moons ago).
When I called the sanctuary in Oban I spoke to a very interesting but non-scottish sounding chap called Craig. He came up here from the SEA LIFE center in Weymouth and Craig is a man who has job satisfaction in spades. He talked all about the centers education schemes and seal rescue and rehabilitation programmes. The sanctuary isn’t just about going to look at some seals and otters, it’s also about learning and teaching people about caring for our oceans and showing them why they’re so important. The staff organise frequent community beach cleans and run a variety of events and activities to help engage people with our seas and sea creatures.
A great example of a brown signed destination for World Oceans Day I think. People like them are opening up a whole new world for us land dwellers to enjoy and help protect and inspire people to care and think more about the world around them can only be a good thing. Happy World Oceans Day guys!