[Tweeters] Sea Deer

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Mon Jun 6 14:55:53 PDT 2016

It was just the other day here in Port Townsend, on a low tide at the beach at Fort Worden ,that I spotted the rare Sea Deer.

A pair of them actually. To see deer in Port Townsend is no great observational feat - the critters are all over town. In fact it's a very rare day that I don't see one around here. But a Sea Deer, not so often. I was snooping the low tide shore (a lifelong habit) when the pair of Sea Deer trotted by me and waded out into the saltchuck . I was wondering what they were up to, but didn't observe overly closely, being preoccupied by tide pool life. Raiding the sushi bar? Adding some sea sodium to their diet? Cooling their hoofs off ? It was hot out by Salish Sea standards.
Well, whatever. While not normally considered a marine mammal, deer are pretty good swimmers. They can swim the distance to get to an island. I once witnessed this somewhere (too many decades ago to remember where exactly) - a deer swimming between islands, way offshore.Deer are remarkable athletes really. While capable of amazing leaps and bounds on land, it is sort of amazing to me that the animal can swim very well, given their skinny legs and un-webbed hoofs. Yet they do it. Deer are tough.
I recently watched a deer documentary which pointed out that deer don't see real clearly, which I didn't know, but made sense of the many deer face-offs I've had . Apparently, when deer are looking at you, they can't focus on you so well - their eyesight is mostly designed to detect movement. So if you don't move they just keep staring at you.
And that got me thinking about that whole island swimming Sea Deer thing. If they can't see worth a damn, how do they find a distant island? Smelling vegetation possibly, vegetation being a deers Prime Directive , which Port Townsend gardeners can attest to. Maybe they can hear the plants - they do have big ears.
Just sayin'Jeff GibsonPort Townsend

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