No, this is nothing to do with the Celtic supernatural world… On Saturday, many of the families of the Gaelic-Medium Unit in Aberdeen – where the Dafter goes to school – met up at the Marine Aquarium in MacDuff, on the Moray Coast. Many of these families have chosen to educate their children bilingually because one or both parents are Gaelic speakers, but there are other families, like ours, who are learning and/or just interested in Gaelic.outing in MacDuff”]
The weather was stunning. We all picnicked on the grass, and a lot of people went down to play on the beach. You will have to imagine about 30 children and adults just over the crest of the rise.
After lunch, we went for a tour of the aquarium, which is always good fun. One of the younger members of our party was very frightened of the various èisg [fish], which was understandable as some of them were much bigger than she was.
However, this little guy was not scary. These baby rays hatch out of the “mermaid’s purses” that you can see hanging behind the baby ray. The baby dogfish milling around on the bottom of the tank also hatch out of mermaid’s purses.
In the sea, the mother rays and dogfish lay the mermaid’s purses in the kelp, where the winding arms of the purse attach themselves to the seaweed, and the babies are safely rocked in the currents until they are ready to hatch.
Very occasionally we find an empty mermaid’s purse washed up on the beach in Aberdeen – I think I have found three in the course of 18 years here. Is it just the name that makes them seem quasi-magical?