Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Seeing the Sea Lions

Yesterday evenings shoreline walk was interesting. Could hear Sea Lions barking from up towards the neck of Dodds Narrows, but my immediate attention was drawn to a small group of juvenile Herring Gulls. Not far from a rocky little promontory, which is mainly covered at high tide, there were repeated commotions in the water. Approaching carefully, I still managed to spook a Blue Heron, but the rest of the birds on the rocks and water ignored my presence.

Less than ten metres away in the water, several gulls were startled from the surface of the water by a sudden swirl as dozens of small fish jumped clear of the surface, closely followed by a Sea Lion. Almost mistook the big animal for a small Harbour Porpoise, it was so quick. Standing on the waters edge as still as I could be, I witnessed this happen again and again over twenty minutes or so. The Gulls would be startled, the fish would jump, and the Sea Lion would follow through within a second. Every two hunts close inshore, the Sea Lion would move out fifty metres or so to deeper water, and swim roughly parallel to the waters edge before approaching to attack the shoals of fish beneath the Gulls once more.

Two Common Seals approached the hunting place, but were wary of my upright form and got no closer than fifty metres or so. I suppose there must have been plenty for all.

Most of the Sea Birds seem to have moved on to other feeding grounds now. We saw the first lot of Gulls leaving a week ago, roosting comfortably on a log boom being towed up to the Harmac plant south of town. I have been told these are called 'Polish Aircraft Carriers' by the locals. No one seems to be able to tell me where this term comes from though. The back third of this particular log boom was literally white with Gulls. I suppose they were too damn full of Herring to fly.

I'm still waiting for my first paycheck so I can buy my years fishing licence, although I don't think I'll stay out for more than an hour at a time as the temperature hasn't gone above fifty degrees Fahrenheit this year, and when that southern breeze is blowing, it feels even colder.

The new snow on the lower slopes of Mount Benson is still there. Some has melted a little, but if this is indicative of a 'runaway greenhouse effect' I'm not convinced, and neither is anyone else I talk to. They're all saying "Global Warming, eh?" in a rather dismissive way. Can't say I blame them.

No comments: