In times of emergency, who comes to our rescue is the last thing on our minds. Whether it be a herd of elephants or an 8-year-old kid, safety is all that matters. But sometimes, we are pleasantly surprised. What started out as a nightmare for this Scottish family turned into an adventure on the Hogwarts Express.
The family of six was spending a vacation camping in the Scottish Highlands. But on Friday, Jon Cluett woke up and walked out of his hut on Loch Eilt to find that their 16-foot red canoe had disappeared, probably washed away by the river.
Miles away from their car and with no other option, Cluett phoned the police. What the officer would reply was nothing short of astounding.
“The policeman said, ‘We’ve arranged for the next train passing to stop for you, and you’re not going to believe this but it’s the Hogwarts Express steam train. Your kids are going to love it,’”
Expectedly, the Cluett children did what any Potterhead would — flip out. If the Hogwarts Express is a go-to rescue vehicle along Fort William and Mallaig, GPS may no longer be a priority to casual hikers.
It is certainly not new to hear about adorable orcas calling for attention, as we have seen in scientists’ accounts of how they are now close to imitating human speech, and some other media appearances here and there, like in films or video games. The latest exciting orca sighting occurred just a few days ago in the River Clyde near Gourock and Dunoon in Scotland.
Chris Denovan said he saw up to six of the mammals when he filmed them in water near Dunoon earlier this week.
They were also spotted by Lindsay Moss during a Western Ferries trip between Gourock and Dunoon on Saturday afternoon.
The pod of killer whales, dubbed by an expert as “urban Orcas,” also seemed to include at least one calf, which was seen in videos while being taught to feed by the pod’s older members.
David Nairn, of Clyde Porpoise marine mammal project, told the BBC Scotland website that they are regularly seen near Arran in the Firth of Clyde.
However, they have not been regular visitors to the upper Clyde for many years.
Orcas are quite the social creatures and tend to travel in groups. Though they are also called “killer whales,” they are not known to show any aggression towards humans or each other.
If this orca sighting really is a rare visit as experts describe it, then what a magnificent day for their human friends!
It’s the end of an era for plastic products. In the past year, Kenya bid goodbye to plastic bags while the U.K. made a final salute to microbeads. Latest to kick the bucket are cotton buds, axed by Scotland’s government.
“Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets and this has to stop. Scotland’s sewerage… systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds, which can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them.” [said environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham.]
The ban is the first of its kind in the U.K. Subsequently, it has encouraged cotton product manufacturers to use biodegradable materials. E-charity Fidra has attempted a number of exhausting cotton bud clean-ups — and the damage isn’t pretty.
“This decisive action is great news for the environment and for wildlife. Cotton buds are a very visible sign of our hugely wasteful habits, turning up on beaches across the globe.” [said Richard Dixon of Friends of the Earth.]
Sure, cotton swabs may feel pleasant in your ear — but not in oceans and definitely not in anyone’s stomach!
Despite the looming controversies surrounding climate change, it hasn’t all been bad news for nature. Bans on hunting and the ability to help endangered species remotely have rehabilitated certain populations. One lucky animal is seeing a small but meaningful comeback in Scotland — it’s the polar bear!
The mother bear, Victoria, is one of three adult polar bears at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, near Aviemore.
The last polar bear cubs born in the UK were twins at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire on 8 December 1992.
Due to the high mortality rates of polar bear cubs, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is treading carefully. The wildlife park has since closed Victoria’s compound to the public and limited keeper interaction. Still, though far superior to most others, its zoo-like qualities remain a concern.
“We contend that our efforts on behalf of this species should be focused on mitigating the impacts of human-induced climate change and securing the species in the wild…” [said Born Free president Will Travers.]
Nevertheless, the park remains hopeful. I would, too, after a 25-year dry-spell!