[Tweeters] Piering About, Again

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Oct 24 17:00:13 PDT 2015

I just had another exciting episode of peering about from the pier at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, one of my favorite hang-outs. It was mid-day, calm and grey with a bit of fall nip in the temperature.
Pretty quiet bird wise. A Common Loon, a few Horned and Red-necked Grebe's, some Double-crested Cormorants, and a few distant Guillemots, were about it out on the water. One of the Horned Grebe's was calling loudly, in a way I don't recall hearing before- maybe it was because it had a fish stuck in it's mouth.
All of these fish-eating birds had it made in the shade, as they say, because the spot was swarming with fish! Every time I come down to this place, sea changes are going on. It's always different - a good reason to go snooping around more often. Today, inside the pier, were thousands of Shiner Perch, and also many Sticklebacks. As I walked around the pier's north side, I watched a big school of Herring swarming about - many thousands of them. My mouth started to water with the idea of pickled Herring - I love 'em.
Right then a head popped out of the water - a young Harbor Seal. The seal then gave me a great underwater show as, for quite a few minutes, it chased the Herring about right below my pier view. Seal's, even this little one, are fast swimmers! Otters are down here more often, and those slinky "water weasels" are pretty zippy too, but it seemed to me (lacking a seal-o-dometer) that the seal would win a speed swimming contest with a River Otter.
I could be wrong, but it makes some sense: the River Otter is real multi-talented - able to swim very well, but also able to galumph over the ground pretty good also, getting from one wet spot to another. They seem to be able to eat about any animal food they can find. Diversified evolutionary investments, so to speak. But the Seal has gone pretty much whole aqua. A Seal can hardly move better than a drift log on the beach, but underwater - whoo hoo - full speed ahead!
Jeff GibsonPort Townsend Wa

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