Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mammal Watching on the Water

Last week end was a great one to see sea mammals. Yes, the sea lions are out “fishing”. But we kayaked out to the big rocks you see out of our house windows. And there were about a half dozen harbor seals swimming around; and one on a rock. It was funny watching him flop around so clumsily on that rock, compared to their effortless swimming.

For the first time in 3 years I saw a “raft” of sea otters. Up until now I had only seen one or two at a time. Apparently they like those rock too, because there were about a dozen as we approached. That must t be where they hang out.

And on the last day I was looking out my window when I saw my first spout form a whale in Mill Bay. A few minutes later, there was another spout. People say they see them often, but form my house it must be too far. So, what’s a person to do when that happens? Get that kayak in the water and paddle out for a better view.

And there it was, slowly swimming along, letting its small back fin show up for half minute before going under again. A pair of guys gere fishing form a small inflatable rubber raft. I am not sure they ever realized there was a whale between me and them. In fact, there might have been two. A few times it blew its spout and once it showed its fluke, as close as 50 feet form them, but they were always fishing in the wrong direction to see it.

What kind was it? Well, I’ve only been to one presentation on whales, but here is how I decided what I saw. It showed its tail or fluke only once. And it did not show its head or a tall dorsal fin. So it wasn’t a Killer Whale. It showed only a small fin that was in the back 1/3 of it’s body. That leaves a lot of possibilities. Gray whales travel in groups; they move fast and this one was just “hanging out”. And Grays should already have passed by here in April and May. So that's not it.

It wasn’t huge; it certainly wasn't a 70 footer. And it got as close as 200 feet from the beach. I still didn’t know. So today I went to look up a poster at Ft Abercrombie State Park. It was a Humpback. Well, that’ my story and I’m sticking to it.

They say these can be over 45 feet and 25-35 tons. That's bigger than I thought. So, maybe next time I’ll keep my 14 foot, 59 pound kayak a little further away.

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