The shallow waters near the new ferry terminal at Mukilteo seemed to be a popular spot for the local cormorants to hunt. For a while, there was one cormorant almost directly below me that seemed to be having a pretty successful time fishing. A couple of times I saw it pop up and swallow something large so I spent a bit of time tracking it waiting for it to return again. Sure enough, it popped to the surface holding a rather large looking fish.
I am not a fish expert so I don’t know what it was. I just know it was still struggling to get away and, given the size, I was curious as to whether the bird would be able to eat it. I clearly underestimated its capabilities as a couple of quick adjustments and the whole thing went down in one go. I waited for it to dive again but, having had a few decent sized snacks, it was clearly letting its lunch go down. It was a while before it dived again. Just before it did, a bloom in the water led me to believe that it was making space for its next course.
The Wild Bites food stands were scattered around the zoo. One of the restaurants was serving a salmon dish. They were set up right next to the bear enclosure. The two brown bears in the enclosure seemed to be very interested in the food. The smell of the fish was wafting in their direction and their noses were twitching like crazy. They had been given their own food at the same time but I think that they were a lot more interested in our stuff than theirs. I can’t say I blame them because it did taste great.
The salmon head to spawn in phases with the three different breeds coming at slightly different times. They head through the ladder at the locks in Ballard in the fall but, before they head into Lake Washington, they pause in the approach area. The transition from salt water to fresh is something that they have to adjust to and the area just by the locks where the fresh water is spilling out provides a good place for them to get adjusted. They can stay for a couple of weeks or more. The result was that we saw a lot of salmon swimming around in the waters by the dam. This was not a risk free occupation as shall be covered in a future post.
After work one evening, I headed to Log Boom Park in Kenmore. I was thinking I might shoot a few floatplanes as they returned at the end of the day but I hadn’t timed it right for that and didn’t see any. However, the local wildlife was busy including a few bald eagles that were out hunting on the lake. Some immature eagles were out and about but a couple of adults were also trying their luck. I saw one of them start to dive down on a target and followed with the camera.
The eagle struck its target and grabbed it out of the water successfully. However, it hadn’t fully appreciated just how large a fish this was. It was a beast and the eagle started to try and climb away without success. This fish was too heavy for it. That wasn’t going to deter it though. It had caught dinner and wasn’t intent on letting it go. Flapping furiously, it tried to gain speed and altitude. Speed was fine but altitude was a different story. Instead, it adopted a new tactic. Dangling the fish beneath it, the tail of the fish was slapping on the surface of the water. This seemed to provide a little support and the combination proceeded to skim across the surface of the lake. Only when at the shore was a final surge of effort put in to pull up on to an awning where the eagle landed and laid out its catch.
This post is about fish. No other reason than I was running through some shots and came across these pictures from the Ocean Coast Aquarium in Newport OR. Taking pictures of fish through thick aquarium glass is a bit of a crapshoot as the distortion can be bad and the potential for reflections is high. Since fish can be so fascinating, though, I always give it a go. Most of the shots turn out to be disappointing but a few work out. Some of the fish have happy looking faces (allowing for some anthropomorphizing) while others look sullen. You can let your imagination run riot.
There was a tank full of sardines at the aquarium that caught my attention. This was something that was really hard to photograph but I tried anyway. The sardines were swimming quickly in shoals and they looked much as you would expect them to – a sleek, silvery fish zipping through the water. The thing that caught my eye was they way that they opened their mouths to feed. The shape of the head is narrow and clean but, when they open their mouths, flaps of skin unfold to create a huge opening allowing them to scoop up food from a far wider area. A few of the shoal would do this at any one time so you never knew where to look but they would open wide for a second or two and then close up again. It totally transformed their appearance.
As the locks at Ballard transfer the water, they manage to catch a lot of salmon at the same time. It was very common while we were there to see the salmon leap out of the water. Some would leap out and crash back into the water on their sides while others would leap upright and nose back in to the water like a dolphin. Catching this on the camera was a touch trickier. I have a lot of shots of splashes as the salmon has just reentered the water. I did get some on video though so you know I am not totally making this up!
Hiram M Chittenden was not only the man in charge of creating the Ballard Locks, he also was ahead of his time in understanding some of the ecological impact of what he was doing. The importance of the fish to the region and the disruption that the salmon would experience led him to the creation of a fish ladder. There is still one there now although it appears to be of slightly more modern construction.
There are ramps alongside parts of the ladder so you can look down and see the fish as they work their way up the steps. You can also look down and see a lot of them swimming around in the approach to the ladder itself. Meanwhile, there is a viewing gallery that has windows into the side of part of the ladder where you can watch the fish either resting in the quieter flows or forcing their way up to the next level. There were signs telling us which types of fish there might be but I have to admit they all looked alike to me.
How long was it going to be before a post about being in Seattle included fish flying through the air at Pike Place Market? You knew it had to come at some point so here we go. The weekend we were there, the place was pretty packed. Tons of people were there so getting into a good spot was not particularly easy. Moreover, you don’t know when they are going to start throwing something. It depends on when someone orders something.
It is actually pretty dark inside the market so getting a good shot is trickier than I expected. The fish fly fast so you want a higher shutter speed. The ISO gets ramped up and you have to try and track the flight while in amongst the crowd with limited ability to move. Hardly the best situation but, if you want a shot, it is what you need to do. Of course, the bigger problem is that, just when you give up and wander away, they start calling out another order and you have to try and get back into a good spot quickly. That is the toughest challenge!
During our walk around the Chicago Botanic Gardens, we walked across a couple of the bridges over the lakes. The lakes are home to a variety of wildlife including plenty of koi carp. I guess they are pretty smart fish as the appearance of a few people seems to attract them rapidly. I guess they get fed enough times to learn. So much for fish having short memories.
These guys showed up in force. They came up from the depths so, for a while they weren’t apparent but then suddenly their form would solidify. They would drift around making it look like it was a coincidence but soon they were right underneath us. Obviously this was no coincidence at all.