Friday, October 31, 2008

What Eric said

Eric Cantona - French footballer and legendary goalscorer for Leeds United (Yay!) and Manchester United (Boo!) - is perhaps most famous in the British sporting culture not for his mercurial talents upon the football field but for launching a brutal kung-fu kick into the crowd at an abusive fan having been sent off and subsequently getting suspended for a long time. My favourite memory of Eric is this quote unleashed on a bewildered press conference immediately thereafter:

When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown in to the sea.

(click for youtube awesomeness)

Eric was, of course, correct about gulls (although he let himself down by referring to "seagulls"):


But its worth noting this behaviour may well pre-date trawlers of all kinds. The gulls certainly weren't shy about following these guys whilst they were feeding either:


I was hoping on our whale watching trip to bag a few interesting pelagic birds too but alas it did not go so well. Yo can certainly make out a few different species working around this humpback though. The bulk of them look to be big American herring gulls but I think I can make out a ring-billed at the bottom right. We also had a few gannets plummetting into the mix from time to time. I'm not sure what the little white chap in the middle is but there is defo a shearwater of some species immediately above the whale's head. What species can you see?


Anonymous said...

I've never really understood why some birders seem to be so irritated by the word 'seagull'. I know it's not the formal term, but it seems harmless enough. I'm in no hurry to eliminate vernacular terms like seagull, hedge sparrow, bearded tit, peewit and so on, even if they aren't always quite precise.

I also think it was pathetic of the press to treat Eric's seagull comment as though it was some kind of impenetrable and weird zen koan that served as evidence of his craziness, instead of a rather precise and accurate analogy, but that's the British newspapers for you.

tai haku said...

I think it was the way in which Eric said it that did the damage for the press ie just saying that very slowly and then walking off.

I was amused to read whilst googling the youtube clip of the translation of "small fish" being done by one of Eric's colleagues to "sardine" - who knows how things may have ended up if he'd gone with sprat, anchovy or pilchard instead....

Rick said...

Laughing Gull and Greater Shearwater, too, yes?