[Tweeters] Sea Deer

Mason Flint (Outlook) masonflint at outlook.com
Tue Jun 7 09:58:58 PDT 2016

Several years ago when I was sea kayaking in Barkley Sound (west side of
Vancouver Island) I had a small deer swim by me more than a mile offshore
between two small islands. :)

Mason Flint

Bellevue, WA

From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu
[mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Jeff Gibson
Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 2:56 PM
To: tweeters <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Tweeters] Sea Deer

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 Gibson

Port Townsend

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