[Tweeters] Another Boathouse Day

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Thu Sep 4 09:12:33 PDT 2014


Another day working on a boat in a boathouse at the Everett marina. This floating structure continues to frame interesting views of nature.
I'm continuing to enjoy watching barnacles and mussels (and barnacles on mussels too, since the floats on this house are made of environmentally incorrect styrofoam. The mussels with their sturdy threads are able to cling to the styrofoam, but barnacles are not, so they park on the mussels instead. Hopefully all these old boathouses will get better pontoons, sometime soon, as they are all dribbling bits of styro 'popcorn' into the water).Yesterday saw some new boathouse things.
First was an interesting little isopod, which looked just like the common terrestrial 'sow-bug', 'rolly-polly', or 'potato bug', you might find under something in your yard, except it was swimming - like a sow bug with an outboard motor; not an Evinrude, but an extra segment at it's stern, that rapidly flaps, thus propelling this little creature. Kind of cool.
Next I heard heavy breathing as I took a rest sitting in the stern of the boat - a Harbor Seal staring at me from about 8ft away. Calmly floating there on the surface, for quite a while, I was beginning to think it was mooching (like the Marina Mooching Mallards, who stopped by later), but then it did it's smooth roll, and rapidly zoomed away into the depths. Have been getting great looks at Harbor Seals (maybe this same one - about 5ft long) , from the docks and ramps down here, and as usual am amazed at their grace underwater.
Yesterday was also kind of birdy. Or maybe I should say feathery, because there were gull feathers all over the place, floating around and in the house. Some were in clumps making me wonder if, rather than some big moult goin' on, maybe a Peregrine nailed a gull down here somewhere, which I have seen happen in Everett before. I guess one can only eat so many shorebird h'orderves before wanting a 'big bird meal'. Who knows.
One amusing gull sighting (they've all been GW gulls here this week) was watching one walking across the dirty, semi-opaque corrugated fiberglas skylight at the boathouse. The big pink feet were clearly seen pressed against the skylight, but the bird itself wasn't visible, just it's shadow. A shadow with walking pink feet. I thought it was amusing - maybe you had to be there.
Last, but not least, was a Pipefish visitation. I have seen Pipefish down at the Everett marina before - in fact the largest one I've ever seen was in a boathouse we once leased, just across the waterway here , at least a foot long. The Bay Pipefish ( which I've posted about before) is a wonderfully wierd little fish that looks just like a piece of eelgrass.
I'd been hoping to see one, and after a number of false alarms from bits of real eelgrass floating into the boathouse, finally saw the real deal yesterday - about 8 inches long, and amusingly looking even more like eelgrass, than eelgrass, if that's possible. As they typically do, this one was "drifting" upright near the surface, looking like an emaciated fish sculpture by the artist Giacometti. Rather that drifting (just like eelgrass!) the Pipefish was actually propelling itself with very rapid, almost invisible, fluttering of its tiny dorsal fin. Moving without moving. Eelgrass with eyes.
Very sneaky - even Orca sonar couldn't find that guy.Maybe. Seals maybe not so lucky. While working I listened to an NPR radio story on how the Transient Orca's are visiting Puget Sound in big numbers this year - so look out seals, you could be dinner because those Orca's eat marine mammals, not salmon like our local yokel Orca's. I've read that they can really slim down the Harbor Seal population in a hurry.
Well, my spotted acquaintance here in the marina might be safe this side of Jetty Island - along with a great many other seals around here. Reading up on Transient Orca's a bit I did find that they also eat the occasional seabird "rich in fish oils" - I guess that would be like taking your Fish Oil pill, rich in omega 3 and all that. One waseven observed eating a Marbled Murrelet - a pretty small pill that would be.
Jeff Gibsonfloating, inEverett Wa


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