Tag Archives: aquatic

What Is Farmed Here?

Eastsound is the main town on Orcas Island.  As you head out of the town center towards the eastern side of the island, you go along the shoreline of a wide bay.  The tide was out as we drove over that way and there were some frames set in to a section of the beach.  Clearly this is an area which would be submerged at high tide so I assume it is used to farm something.  Shellfish of some sort were what I assumed but I don’t know for sure.  If anyone has any suggestions as to what they might be, please let me know in the comments.

Surfers At Waikiki Beach

The title is not intended to catch you out, but it probably will.  These photos are in Washington rather than Hawaii.  Cape Disappointment has a small beach tucked under the cliffs and it goes by the name of Waikiki.  At the tail end of my trip there, I saw that a group of surfers had gone in to the water and were making the best of the waves which, since they were a lot smaller than what I would have hoped for, we probably ideal for them.

Not being a surfer, I am not a good judge of what the right techniques are when surfing but, even so, you can usually quickly work out who has got a better feel for the waves and who hasn’t.  Picking the right one to go for and getting up to speed to make it on to the wave seems to be a bigger deal than staying up for some of the people.  As I say, I’m not a surfer so this is all uninformed commentary.

Two things are of interest when photographing surfers.  Having them coming in your direction so you can see their face while they are carving across the wave or watching them wipe out in style.  The latter is probably not what they want me to be focused on but you take what you can get when shooting this stuff!

Watching You Watching Me

When out looking for wildlife, it pays to keep your head swiveling.  There are the things you are expecting to see but also the odd one you weren’t.  It was close to high tide as I walked far out on the boardwalk at Nisqually but the tide had turned and the water was starting to flow out.  As I glanced across, I saw three shapes in the water.  Some seals were drifting out with the tide.  Two of them were swimming along but one had stopped close to me and was staring directly at me.  Consequently, he got photographed.  We stared at each other for about a minute and then he disappeared under the surface and I didn’t see him again.  The other two were long gone so I assume he was chasing to catch up with them.

Seals Explore the New Space

It’s not unusual to see seals along the shoreline at Mukilteo.  The creation of the new ferry terminal seems to have provided them something new to explore.  It also provides an elevated location from which to see them which is great since photographing seals when you are close to water level makes for difficult conditions and less than inspiring photos.

I don’t know how much the base of the ferry terminal provides for good food supply for the seals but they seemed to be hanging around for a while.  Maybe it was curiosity or maybe the food was good.  I was just glad to see them!

Steller’s Sea Lion Looking for Attention

Lime Kiln Point is a popular spot for watching whales.  A humpback was not far offshore but a Steller’s sea lion came swimming up along the shore.  It was very close in and headed past the lighthouse and to the north.  We went back to watching for the whale.  A little while later, a snort came from our right with a spray of water.  The Steller’s was back and was bobbing in the water right in front of us.  It hung around long enough to take a couple of shots and then it went back north.  I think it was jealous of the attention the whale was getting!

Seals Looking for a Salmon Dinner

A trip to the Chittenden Locks in Ballard in the fall is a good time to see salmon making their way up through the fish ladder en route to their spawning grounds.  If we know the salmon are there, so do their predators.  On this day, it was seals.  Seals and sea lions are both common at the locks when hunting for salmon.  A pair of seals were playing around in the waters near the locks, no doubt choosing their moment for a snack.  Another pair of seals had been a bit more aggressive in their thinking.  They had made their way into the fish ladder itself.

There are gates on the entrance to the ladder that are intended to allow the fish through and not the larger predators but I guess on this day, the gates had been left open.  Our first glimpse on one of the seals was as it was chomping its way through a salmon it had already caught.  It was making swift work of it.  A while later we saw them again.  They would haul themselves out on to the walls of the ladder for a break before diving back in to search for the next snack!

Salmon Waiting to Head to Spawning Grounds

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.

Otter Crew

While walking along the harbor in Victoria, I happened to be looking over the edge when three otters came out from under where we were and dropped into the water. I was quite surprised by this and we watched them swim out a way into the water before the dived. It wasn’t long before they popped back up with their catches in their mouths. They then climbed up onto the jetty for one of the ferries to enjoy their crab lunch and to play around as otters are prone to do!

Minke Whale Feeding

On our trip back to Edmonds, after we left the orcas, we had a lucky encounter.  We came across a minke whale.  It was having a good time feeding on bait balls that were easy to spot given the large number of birds on the surface above them.  We saw the whale surface a few times and then it headed for the bait.  Timing its surfacing was tricky.  The birds all started to take flight but they did so a long time before the whale came up through the fish.  I missed the key moment.  However, I did get a few shots of the whale as it was feeding although not of the swollen lower jaw folds as it took mouthfuls of water in.

Stellar Sea Lions Taking It Easy

Sealions are not small creatures when you get close to them.  However, the ones you more normally come across have a larger relative.  The Stellar Sealion is a big beast of a creature.  The females are large and the males are huge.  When we used to visit Ano Nuevo, you could see the Stellars out on the island.  What looked like large rocks were actually the males.  These things are big.

A colony of them was hanging out on some rocks we came across during our trip to go whale watching.  They were basking on the rocks or swimming in the waters nearby.  The boat was able to get quite close to the rocks so we could see the sealions out enjoying the sun.  Seals and sealions seem to be very happy when they are dozing on the rocks in the sun.  We weren’t close enough to disturb them but we were close enough to get a good look.