Thomas Southwell (1831-1909) was an employee at Barclays bank. Following in the footsteps of his father he worked at Fakenham branch and then in Norwich. This seemingly ordinary background masked one of our best naturalists of the modern era. He spent much of his leisure time travelling around Norfolk taking notes about what he saw within the natural world. Southwell was an accomplished author publishing several natural history books as well as many papers within the transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society (NNNS). He was also voted in as a fellow of the Royal Zoological Society and became president of the NNNS twice!
I was recently given some of Southwell’s papers, correspondence and notes to examine. It has to be said his handwriting is an acquired learning. Amid lots of letters and scribblings regarding whales and dolphins I came across this passage which touched me somewhat. He was referring to the ‘back story’ of a young White Beaked Dolphin he was examining in Great Yarmouth that had been caught offshore.
“…1881 Sep – Locally known to the Yarmouth fishermen as Scoulter A very young one taken by a Yarmouth boat about 40 miles off the coast on 10th Sept 1881. It was accompanied by its mother and appeared not to have been born many hours. The mother followed the boat two hours after its young one was taken, showing obvious signs of distress …”
Given what I have read about what is happening in Taji in Japan and on the Faroe Islands recently it’s a crying shame that in the last 135 years since this event took place we have learn’t comparatively little regarding cetaceans and have progressed in the guardianship of our planet even less. Here is a photograph I took several years ago of a White beaked Dolphin mother with her young enjoying the wildness of the sea.