Friday, June 29, 2012

More thing about seals

I know, I get on a subject and write about it more than most are interested.

But here is a picture of a seal I took out on Pasagshak Bay last year. It is at "the end of the road system".

We are going there tomorrow because the red salmon are coming in. I bet we'll see a bunch of seals having some good meals.

It's easy to differentiate a seal form our Steller sea lions. First of all, seals like to live alone, not in goups or herd like sea lions. They spend much more time in the water, so you see them less. But when they come up on a rock to "sun", they like to arch up their tail. So even if you are far away, you can tell just by the shape that it's a seal.

They also seem to be much more interested in people. Like otters, they keep looking at you. But they have a definite distance they want to keep form you. If you paddle closer, they go under.....only to come back up farther away. As long as you don't encorach on "their space", they often just tread water and stare at you, maybe for 20 minutes at a time. Different seals have diferent definition of what is "their space". Some let you get as close as 20 yards. Others go under at 100 yards. Don't ask me why.

Some seals are too friendly. I know two peopel who have had young seals climb on their kayak. That is fine when they are 100-200 pounds. But if they do this when they are adults of 300 pounds, your kayak would likely flip over. I've never had such an experience, and hope never to.

Sea lions might be "friendly" too, but if so, it is in their own special way. They like to sneak up on you and bump your paddle from behind when you are not looking. Even worse, they like to swim right under your kayak and bump it!, even when the water under you is only a few feet deep. That is not so funny since they are 1,000 pounds and almost as long as your kayak.

Concerning visual characteristics: our seals have spots on their fur and open holes in their heads for their ears. Sea lions are more homogeniously brown and have little tags over their ears, so you can't see their ear holes.

And  when you see them on a rock, sea lions are there in groups. There will be only one seall on a rock and likely will have it's back arched,  just like in the picture above.

But the easiest way to differentiate them is this:

If they are so big that fear speeds up your heart rate, it is a sea lion!

Hope we have fun tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meet more friends

Sumer, they say, is  the time to meet your neighbors.
Last Tuesday I ran into my eagle neighbors, as I showed on the blog.

Sunday the weather was great,
the water so calm that it was like glass.

So Kayaking I went, trying ot find our eagles again. 

Unfortunately, I could see them on a rock at the end of Ft Abercrombie,
at the entrance to Monashka bay.
So I decided to  see what else I could see at Spruce Cape.

And what I found was something like this. A seal arched upon a rock.
It happened so quick that I didn't take a pic.
So I hope you don't mind if I show 2 similar pics form a cloudy day.

Once it saw me, that seal dove right into the water.

Anyway, this Sunday the same thing happened.
And it came over to check me out.
For about 10 minutes it swam around me and stared.

Finally it went under. And I went on to another group of rocks.

But as I paddled back towards the beach,
I found 2 seals, apperantly taking a nap while swimming in the water.

 One yawned.

Then suddenly seemed to wake and looked at me.

It turned around and the other one opened it's eyes and looked at me too.

One went behind a rock.
The other stayed behind and looked at me some more.

Till it decided it was time to go under the water and swim among the kelp.

And I decided it was time to head for home.

But not before seeing my neighbor eagle return
and make a dive for some food.....

... only to fly off empty-handed.

Well that's a typical day in Kodiak !
Hope you had a good day too.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The days are getting shorter now

The days are getting shorter now. Every day a little less light.

But don't despair. Here is a pic on June 25th, at 4:00 AM.

The sun will be fully up by 5:10 AM and won't go down till 11:20 PM.
And leaves almost an extra hour on each side of the day to do fun things outside.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Meet our neighbors

Since the winds have died down, there are no more shows of diving eagles.
So, I went kayaking out Mill Bay on Tuesday, at about 9 PM.

From across the bay I saw a different shape to the rocks than I was used to seeing.
So I crossed the bay and paddled closer.

It's easy for something to stand out,
when there is something 3 extra feet on top of the horizon

Thought I recognized our neighbors.

Yes, it was them, sunning themselves on a rock.

They're the couple that nest on a tree behind our house.

But this year they're using a nest about 4 blocks away.
They like to fly to the tip of Spruce Cape, about a mile away,
and catch the sea breezes.
Usually they're at the land's edge.
But today it was so warm that they were on a rock in the middle of the water

They didn't seem to mind as I kayaked close.
So, I stayed there for about 15 minutes, paddling around them.

Meanwhile, the seal we saw on a recent blog,
swam between me and them...
for about 75 yards, with it's head above the water.
No doubt, making sure that I was not a threat.

Unfortunate, batteries just love to quit when you need them most!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Look at us now!

On June 8th,  I showed you this pic form the top of Pilar Mt.
as dog and friend watched the eagles' show.

Brown-gray was the grass color then.

Now, flowers have started to bloom.

And this weekend, the "Green-Up" has indeed arrived!

We can truly say that we are "The Emerald Island" once again!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Father's Day show

This weekend I took one of the grand kids for a picnic up Pilar Mt.

This is what we saw:

A pair of juvenile eagles were flying around,

in a beautiful, synchronous formation.
 Suddenly, one would turn and hit the other.....

their talons would come out...

 and they would free-fall......

 until they got in formation again and repeated their synchronous flying
....till one would hit the other again and the free fall would begin again.

The next day they were at it again, this time over Beaver Creek (probably because it was very very windy at Pilar).

I've read about this as part of a mating ritual. But these guys were juveniles; they hardly had any white to their necks yet. And they did not grab on and hold to each other as they freely fell, as the Internet says is the ritual for courting.

What's also interesting, is that an adult would be close by and occasionally fly with them. When she'd leave, the young ones would do their hit-and-fall routine over again.

I think it was a training lesson, being monitored by the parent. 
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

PS What you see in the background are islands in the bay as the birds fly 1,500 feet high, along the top of Pilar Mt, from where we watched, during our picnic lunch.
The small fleck you see in the second picture is a commercial fishing boat, way down below.
Pretty cool, we thought.



Friday, June 15, 2012

More tide pooling

Here are some of the underwater sea life off Ft Abercromby, seen during low tide.
Since I had forgotten my polarizing filter, I increased the contrast and decreased the brightness on the image to make them appear like they looked in real life.
Hope you can appreciate them.

Here are some of the animals I specially like: Sea Anemones.
Yes, sea anemones are animals, not plants.
Check them out at :

 Some of the guys have tentacles containing a clear liquid like center....

and a series of colored lines running perpendicular to the tentacles.
The clear tentacles are beautiful.

But....This is my favorite
With it's light green fronds, it is kind-of-like an alovera, but with soft, moving, flowing tentacles!
Wish I had taken a video!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We went tide pooling this weekend.
That's when you go the sea edge during low tide to check out the sea life.

Kids liked it.

 Unfortunately I forgot my polarizing filter,

making things look gray.

But, if you have a child stand over a scene and produce a shadow...

It sure helps get rid of the glare!

What else did we find?

Creeping "sponges",

Sea Stars,

and small Crabs.

No, not a bad day for future marine scientists!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dark at last

About 2 years ago I read in the paper about 2 lower 48 campers who had come north of Fairbanks. They had turned on their emergency search beacon. When the rescue crew arrived via helicopter, they found the reason for the "emergency": "The night was so bright that we could not sleep for 3 nights!"

A year later I read that they had been fined $ 21,000 (hopefully each!) for falsely instigating a "rescue" event.

I was reminded about it this weekend, when I washed the car at 10:30 PM. Then  at 1 AM they called me out to work. There was a little light but I definitely had to turn on my headlight.

To show you how dark it gets early in June, here is the pic I took at 2 AM, facing East ....perhaps a little blurry, but taken without a tripod!

Pretty similar to what we saw at 4:45 PM on Dec 21.

By June 21, I don't think it'll get this black at all. And it'll be nice and bright by 4:30 AM.

The only bad thing is that I can't even think of sleeping till after midnight and don't go to bed till 2 AM. Good thing the black-out shades let me sleep in during the morning!

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Green-up is Coming

This is what's happening at sea level.

But at 1,500 feet up Pillar Mt, the grass was still gray yesterday.

Today you can see the green "marching" up the mountain!

Soon it'll be to the top!