The seals have departed Ventspils

A controversy that has divided Latvia down the middle was finally resolved March 27 when a group of seals decided they had had enough and quit the country for pastures new.

The herd, including several young pups, had been attracting crowds at the port city of Ventspils for the last week after they unexpectedly showed up on the beach. Their arrival was greeted with delight by small children, fans of cuteness and the mayor, all of whom posed before cameras next to the large-eyed creatures in order to demonstrate their proximity to the aquatic mammals and then prove the fact to society at large by posting hundreds of pictures online.

However, such actions rapidly attracted the ire of conservationists, veterinarians and people sick of seeing pictures of seals, with advice circulated just as widely as the pictures telling members of the public not to approach within 50 meters - or in some cases 100 meters - of the animals.

Throughout the at times indecorous argument between the sealy-feelies and the sensible sorts, the seals maintained the moral, if not literal, high ground as they lolled on the sea shore, emitting occasional yelps and grunts in their impenetrable dialect.

And ultimately it was the well-insulated visitors who resolved the situation by the simple expedient of shimmying across the sand, raising their flippers in one final farewell and shoving off.

Responding to the news that the castaways had finally cast off, the local police chief said: "We have learned a lot from this, and if the seals ever visit us in Ventspils again, we will be more prepared for it."

The local municipality recorded their departure for destinations unknown with a melancholy tweet.

We wish the seals well in their further adventures upon and beneath the not-particularly-briny Baltic waves and would appreciate if next time they could call us in advance for an exclusive interview conducted at a distance of 51 meters.  

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