Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Harbor Seals on the North Coast
As I was editing images this morning the fog kept drifting by my windows through the trees reminding me of my adventure to the Mendocino Coast yesterday. After my breakfast in Fort Bragg I had noseyed up the coast towards the "Fingers". Along the way I stopped off at the Pacific Star Winery where I planned on buying a bottle of wine for one of my good neighbors. For some reason there wasn't anyone in the tasting room. Beautiful place by the way. I lingered there for a few minutes and know one showed up so I left as I was on a mission to do some photography. When I got to the "Fingers" it was foggy with the sun trying to break through. Looking down I could see the fingers of rock reaching out into the Pacific explaining how the area got its name. The ocean was really calm, perfect conditions to do some seal photography. After hiking down the trail to the rocks I immediately spotted a group of harbor seals spy hop fishing. In calmer water seals have adopted a very unique way of looking for fish. The float upright in a spy hop position and tip their heads backwards into the water.This allows them to still breathe while looking downward into the water for fish. After they spot a fish they roll over and dive after it. I carefully made way down closer to the waters edge making sure not to disturb the seals. Once I was close enough I found a comfortable spot and sat down and waited. Several seals came by to check me out. They are quite curious and would stare at me from the water for awhile and then go back to fishing. Meanwhile off shore on their haul out rock the rest of the Harbor Seals snoozed. Once in awhile one would lift up its head to make sure everything was right with the world.There was a little bickering between some seals over spots but otherwise it was really calm. Towards the end of my stay some small waves began coming in. One dark seal had chosen a low spot and it started getting wet. It seemed really unhappy and finally it gave up and went back into the water. Some of the other seals dealt with the incoming water by lifting up their heads and tails to try and keep them warm and dry. By then I had been sitting on the rocks for over an hour and my rear end was getting a bit sore. Next time I need to remember to bring a pad to sit on. Climbing up the hill back to my pick up I stopped and photographed a bumblebee on a thistle. You never know what you will find to photograph when you are out in nature. Speaking of which there is still one more installment of this trip left to cover. God's love and blessings to all, chris Note: Harbor Seals in the United States are protected under the Marine Mammal Act and may not be harrassed or approached under a 100 feet. Please use common sense and good judgement around a seal colony.