It was a call of the wild, a melancholy wailing drifting over this East Neuk of Fife shore, and on peering across the small choppy inlet, I could see the heads of two grey seals bobbing out on the water, gazing at me with dewy eyes.
It was a wonderful sight, but disappointment coursed through my body, for I had come to snorkel on this stretch of coast, but the water was too rough and dangerous to enter.
I sat disconsolate by the water’s edge. One of the seals swam close to me, eyeing me curiously, as if in sympathy with my predicament.
If the water had been calmer, I could have even snorkelled in among the seals, I pondered. Now, that would have been good, so incredibly good.
However, all was not lost because there was a large, shallow and protected sandy lagoon behind me, now totally cut-off from the open sea because of the falling tide, and with enough depth to make snorkelling a possibility. It was better than nothing.
So, I plunged-in and my air of despondency quickly evaporated into one of elation.
The lagoon was only about three feet deep, but within its bounds a multitude of life shone out at me.
The most surprising discovery was a large lobster sheltering in a dark rock crevice by the lagoon margin.
I glimpsed one of its claws at first, and on gliding closer, the large crustacean half emerged from its shelter, waving its two long, reddish antennae at me, while keeping its large powerful claws clenched like a pair of boxing gloves.
I left the lobster in peace and explored more of the lagoon.
Soon, another strange creature loomed ahead of me, crawling slowly across the sand.
It was a sea hare, soft-bodied and blackish in colouration, and about 15cm long with two pairs of stubby tentacles on the top of the head.
The sea hare is a mollusc, but has no external shell, and when threatened by a predator, releases a purple cloud of ink to fend-off the attacker.
Shortly after, I found several more sea hares, this time embraced within one another’s clutches – a mating tangle.
Sea hares are hermaphrodite (each animal is both male and female) and often form mating chains, with some animals acting as females, others as males, and some as both!
The range and diversity of nature never fails to astound me, and these sea hares were spellbinding to watch.
I glimpsed a vast array of other fascinating marine life, including several types of fish, including a 15-spined stickleback which used its pectoral (side) fins to manoeuvre through the water with agility and precision.
As I emerged from the lagoon, my wetsuit clad body covered in a sheen of dripping water, I heard the wailing seals once more.
One day I will snorkel in among you, I promised, one day. But for now, I was as happy as I had ever been, such was the diversity of marine life that had just been unveiled before my eyes.
One doesn’t need to snorkel to experience the amazing inter-tidal life of Courier Country. Rockpooling reaps rich rewards when the tide out is out – turn stones and rocks over carefully, and often fish and crabs will be found hiding beneath.