Sunday, March 04, 2012
a raucous gathering...
at this time of year, the waters of the strait are taking on a peculiar turquoise hue, in spots almost like a tropical sea despite the grey sky and cold wind. the herring have arrived and are spawning, turning the water a milky aqua as gulls and eagles wheel overhead in ecstasy at the feast spreading out before them. geese and seabirds cluster on the water and shoreline in search of eggs to scoop up. another visitor returns to the area in large numbers too, eager to fill their bellies with fish: sea lions. both the stellar and california sea lions can be seen, although today we mostly saw the smaller california species.
we drove south on our sunday morning adventure, keeping an eye out as rays of sunshine and sprinkles of rain alternately danced on the windshield. through town and the outskirt houses until the old highway begins to stretch out right alongside the sound. the southwest wind stirred up a chop on the slate-coloured water, making it hard to distinguish the dark heads from the mooring buoys that bobbed near shore. but soon enough we were spotting little rafts (yup, that's the correct term) of sea lions everywhere as they dipped and dived in the squalling sea, finding where the grey turned to turquoise and the herring schooled. it was tempting to pull over immediately and sit and watch, but there was a goal in mind. my truck followed the curve of the shore straight into the wind until a particular wharf jutted out into a bay. they were waiting for us.
as soon as we were free of the vehicle and into the breeze the air filled with a raucous chorus of barks. a rusting metal structure just off the main wharf settled uneasily under the weight of dozens of california sea lions napping, squabbling and barking. heads and flippers popped up in the wind-ruffled sea here and there, regulating body temperature (as A says) or synchronized swimming (my version). a log boom a little farther out hosted another crew, several of them appearing to be the larger steller species, and a handful of fat harbour seals trying to nap amongst all the noise of their larger pinniped brethren. the quickening wind made us tuck into our down jackets as we enjoyed the scene, and occasionally drove a waft of fowl fish odour straight into our faces. eau de sea lion, you might call it.
i tried to get some video for you so you could experience the sea lion chorus too, but the wind dominates most of the video and the telephoto lens makes the scene awfully shaky. i'm slowly trying to get a better hang of the whole moving pictures thing - still shots come more naturally. but i'm hoping to incorporate more video around here, so i'll keep trying.
we headed back home under the arc of a rainbow glowing over fishing boats spread out across the sound. hope you're having a restful sunday afternoon - it's disappearing quickly on me so i best step away from this machine. :)