A Warm-Water Seal?
SEALS are often depicted in the icy, white expanses of Arctic or Antarctic waters. But did you know that some seals can thrive in a temperate climate, basking on the sand of deserted beaches?
Meet the Mediterranean monk seal. Measuring up to 12 feet [3.5 m] in length, this warm-water seal has short, thick hair covered with dark patches, with a whitish belly and breast. These distinctive colors, similar to the habit of some religious orders, may explain its name.
Several Bible passages mention a skin called taʹchash (in Hebrew), which covered the tabernacle and utensils in the sanctuary. (Exodus 25:5; 26:14; Numbers 4:8) Some experts suggest that taʹchash refers to sealskin. Could it be the skin of the Mediterranean monk seal? The presence of this animal in ancient Mediterranean waters makes this supposition valid.
Ancient folklore attributed special powers to the monk seal. Its skin, some believed, could ward off bolts of lightning and prevent hail from falling on cultivated fields. By either standing on end or lying flat, the hairs of the sealskin were said to indicate the onset or imminent conclusion of a thunderstorm.
Because of its supposed powers, the monk seal was almost driven to extinction by merciless hunters. Recently, however, it has been sighted in the sea around east-central Sardinia. When harmony between man and animal is reestablished in God’s new world, the Mediterranean monk seal will undoubtedly repossess tranquil and peaceful beaches, where it will be able to bask in the sun unthreatened by greedy humans.—Isaiah 11:6-9.
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