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Guest post: The body on the beach !


I hardly ever do guest posts here, but when Sophie Bagshaw told me this story, I thought it was definitely worth a post ! Sophie is 17 and is a brilliant naturalist and birdwatcher, and we met up over the summer when we both accidentally discovered we were on holiday and about 50 yards from each other ! Anyway, here's her story ! - Jake.

A couple of Sundays ago, me and my mum went on our usual trip to Cockerham, part of the coastline in the North West of England, and my favourite place ever. I have found many a treasures washed up in the shore, but I never expected to find what I did that day !

Usually, it is really quiet up at Cockerham with a few twitchers here and there, but this time there seemed to be quite a few blue and yellow vans about. My first thought was 'why are highway maintenance here?' but when mum and I we got closer it turned out to be around fifteen police officers, a chief inspector and one of those forensic people dressed in a white paper suit.

 Their vehicles (operations support unit, crime scene investigation and a few police cars) lined the coast and they seemed to be inspecting and photographing something which had been washed up. I  was curious to know what had been washed up, to see if I had been unfortunate to miss what could have been a great item to add to my collection. 

After sneakily digiscoping the lady in white with the chief and police at a distance, I began to realise what they had found. 

Once I had gained a bit of courage, me and my mum walked towards the 'crime scene'. 

Asking the chief innocently if it was anything interesting and if we could walk further on. He said 'no not really, just something which had been reported. But you should be able too'. So as we had asked, we had to go on, past the incident. 

The lady in white was photographing every angle she could get of the washed up skeleton. When we got closer, it was clear to me exactly what it was which they had been sent to investigate, however they seemed to be unsure of the identity. The lady told us to keep walking and not to go near the scene. We shouted down to her, "you know it's a seal?".

Well of course this caused me and mum to give our details to the chief as well as what we knew about it. When I told them that it was a male grey seal which had been washed up near the end of august and showed them a picture of it on my phone, one of the police men put his hand up and looked really pleased, whilst shouting "I said it was a seal!".

Apparently someone had reported a human skeleton which had been washed up in the tide line. As the seal had been there since August it had begun to decompose, and so the loose bones had been washed around, scattering the skeleton about. Better still, the main bones which would have made it easier to identify as a seal then a human had been taken ie, the skull, scapula, pelvis and claws. 

Earlier in the morning the police had been scanning the area for the skull but couldn't find it, to confirm the identity. They told us that it may have been taken by a beachcomber. But what I didn't tell them was I had taken the skull myself earlier, and it was on a shelf at home !

Gladly they haven't contacted me again or searched my treehouse full of nature's curiosities, but now an interesting story can go with my grey seal skull, which I've named Sid !

Sophie Bagshaw is a brilliant naturalist and blogger. She's on Twitter as @bagshawsophie, and she blogs at strongerthanbone.wordpress.com. Thanks Sophie !

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Mel said...

I do love this story! That skull is so cool, and what a awesome story to be able to tell Sophie! :) Great post!

Sam Misan said...

Briliant (ps sophie we have publicity for strong as bone now )!!!!!

Sophie BirderBagshaw said...

Thanks for the chance to share this post jake :)

Jo [Jake's Editor] said...

Super post Sophie! Of course if more people understood anatomy and read both of your blogs (and your book, Jake) people wouldn't make such mistakes!

sedruff said...

That's really cool! Super funny that everyone thought it was a person, and awesome that you've got a skull with a colorful backstory.

Jake said...

Not at all, thank you for writing it !

Jake said...

Ha, yes !

min-seo jeon said...

A seal!?It's really cool!

Barry said...

Great story! One more way that being a bone collector can come in handy: recognizing a seal bone when you see one.

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