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His Fate was Sealed
Outdoors Outpost
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 • Posted January 25, 2012

Perhaps you’ve heard of William Walkman, the fellow who spent his life trying to protect baby harp seals in Labrador, Retriever. Or maybe that was Labrador, Newfoundland. There was definitely a dog involved. I think.Now, these baby harp seals really do need protecting, I guess, since their furs are high dollar items, and people go out every year and kill them. With clubs. Which is not sporting at all, if you ask me. If you can walk right up to your prey and whack it over the head, then you’re not doing it right.But this practice is evidently legal, however unethical, and Walkman made it his life’s work to protect the seals. Which is all fine and good, as far as it goes, but Walkman went a lot further than that. He tried to protect the seals, not just from the club hunters, but from everything else, too.Walkman spent a lot of time living among the seals, trying to be accepted, to build rapport with them. But he must have worn out his welcome, spent too much time on their couch, watching their television, or something. Because they finally killed him.The seal guy was found beaten to death recently, and authorities first figured seal ‘hunters’ must have done it. But they took samples of blood found on the tails of several adult harp seals nearby, and it matched Walkman’s blood. So the seals did it, in the sleeping bag, with the tail clubs.Now, a lot of people are calling this a case of poetic justice, which is not right at all. If Walkman had been a seal clubber, it would have been poetic justice, which means your own misdeeds are turned against you. This was just a case, I guess, of an idiot being beaten to death by seals.The reason I call Walkman an idiot is that, although I have to agree with him on the clubbing thing, he was wrong about everything else. Walkman set up a video camera and filmed himself interacting with the seals, probably to try to create interest in his cause. The videos show him, basically, interferring with nature, which is always a bad idea.In one segment Walkman is seen fending off a killer whale with a stick, to keep it from eating the seals. Now, seals are a major part of the killer whale diet, so the whale was just doing what came naturally to him. It was his job, in a manner of speaking, to eat the seals. And Walkman had no business messing with that.A few years ago I met a fellow who had spent a lot of time (too much time, if you ask me) with killer whales. I learned way more than I ever wanted to know about orcas from that guy, some of which I will now relate to you, in order to make it sound like I know what I’m talking about. Let me know if it works.Orcas, unlike humans, mate for life, and spend a lot of time with their young, teaching them about their environment. “Your environment consists pretty much entirely of salt water,” is the kind of thing I imagine orca moms tell their babies. That is, when they’re not showing them how to catch seals.This guy was with a group of people who went to Alaska to study the killer whales once, and they set up camp on a beach. A group of orcas saw them, and a pair of adults brought the babies, one at a time, close to shore. The babies would stick their heads out of the water, look at the humans for a while, and then the adults would escort the little one back to the herd, or pod, or whatever. Then they would bring another baby in to see.They also hold grudges. When a killer whale leapt over a trainer at a Sea World type place once, he lowered his tail a few inches, and let it hit the guy in the head, and broke his neck. This was assumed to be an accident, although the whales are known to be extremely good about knowing where their tails are at all times. Usually they’re attached in back, I guess, but there you go.Anyway, the authorities ended up finding video of the trainer being cruel to the whale, taunting him with fish and stuff like that. They decided the whale got enough of it and whacked the guy on purpose.My point here is that orcas, being highly intelligent and socially developed animals, deserve just as much respect as harp seals. Plus you never hear of killer whales lying around in the snow, letting guys come along with clubs and whack them over the head.I also wonder if the whale Walkman hit with the stick didn’t have something to do with his death. Maybe it squirmed up on the shore and grabbed the seals and beat Walkman to death with them, leaving a false trail for investigators. You never know.One thing is for sure – Walkman won’t be messing with the balance of nature anymore. And if you look anything like him, my advice would be to stay away from shorelines from now on. That whale guy told me that orcas have really long memories . . .Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who tries never to antagonize anything with ‘killer’ in its name. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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