Sunday, 25 January 2009

One little Sand Eel

Don of Musings and Misc. Thoughts told a story recently: -

“Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a person going back and forth between the surf's edge and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.

The man was struck by the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached the person continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.

As he came up to the person he said, "You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can't possibly make a difference." The person looked at the man. He then stooped down and pick up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said, ‘It sure made a difference to that one!’"

I was reminded of a day when Jo and I walked along the Bhriagh near Stornoway. A lot of men and boys were fishing and all had healthy catches of Mackerel. Meanwhile, at their feet thousands of sand eels were being tossed up out of the water. When we looked in the water we could see huge shoals of sand eels milling back and forth at the water’s edge – the mackerel were darting in and out feeding on them. Every time an extra large wave came in more and more sand eels were thrown onto the pebbles.

Jo started throwing them back in. Very much along the lines of the Starfish thrower. The men and boys were obviously amused though too polite to show it openly. I was more interested in photographing them, taking the philosophic view that the task was too great and therefore pointless. Nevertheless, I helped a few back in to show moral support to my partner.

Now I wish I had worked a bit harder.


  1. Look at those colors! Great shot!
    And great story. Nothing would ever be saved or improved if we sat around thinking about the enormity and futility of our own small contributions to life on this planet, right?
    Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Poor little fishes, and starfishes! But at least you had a go, and that's what matters. Kindness to all creatures should be paramount always! People can look after themselves mostly!

  3. I'm afraid that my first thought was "OK, throw the sandeels back and be kind to the mackerel".

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  5. I love the photos, especially the eels among the rocks.

    What a hauntingly beautiful helped a few, and that counts for something.

    Great reminder of how kindness is so important, no matter how daunting the task.



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