The seal thrashed and wiggled to climb the slippery bank to bask with her family, friends, and wait for the North Sea tide to come back in so they could swim back home to their mudflat village, a post-industrial haven, half a mile inland.
Until then, they laze on the damp brown slopes, factories lined up one side of the Estuary and wild summer flowers on the other.
The Mouth of the Tees is theirs, for now.
Clumsy and strange on the land, when they slide back into the water they become elegant dancers, players in a watery theatre. Little heads bobbing in and out of the soft waves with salty smiles for the few human observers, walkers, bird-watchers.
They are together, in their place. They belong. Their awkwardness and grace co-existing seamlessly - unable to be one without the other. They are whole only with both.

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