Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cruising for critters

The family (that is, dotter & SIL) drove a couple of hundred miles yesterday to go to sea to see sea critters. They let me and granddotter come along on the cruise from Seward. Despite the grey day, it was worth it! The skipper of the Job Site took my picture after I decided not to buy his boat; below, our day cruiser.

Today this clifftop is birdland; during WW2, it was a coastal military installation. If you look closely, you can see the remains of a staircase. I'm not sure what the round features are, but they're manmades.

Common murres like the long cracks in the high cliff side for their rookery. Their upright stance reminds observers of the penguin.

There were even more gulls nesting on seaside cliffs.

Look closely in the pictures and you may see young.

I didn't do well seeing the puffin swimming in the water, but scored on land. Take a note of the flowers; I shouldn't be surprised -- after all, they get plenty of nutrients from the guano!

A cormorant, another cliff side inhabitant.

Then there were the sea lions, a species of seal, who spend the day lazing on rocks just above sea level after a night of hunting in the water. From a distance, they look like brown slugs or patches of brown moss. Their bedroom is immediately below a gull rookery.

These dark blobs are sea otters at play. Yes, I also saw young orcas, tho that doesn't count because I thought the guide said dolphins, which I knew all about from my days in Florida. However, the younglings played about the bow of the ship for several minutes to the delight of a large audience.

These fellows are feeding leftovers and offal from the nearby seafood processing plant to a fleet of hungry gulls, who will clean everything up smartly and in quick time.

Other sea life seen: jelly fish undulating their way a foot or so below the surface, a handful of starfish on the tidal rocks and, above, barnacles. Oh, yes. several bald eagles, just beyond camera distance, tho the dotter says come with her over to Home Depot for the eagles, which are a far cry from endangered up here in the 49th.


meggie said...

How curious about the flowers. I might have thought the Guano might burn the roots of plants.

TomboCheck said...

Too much fun!
Those military installations, I believe, are machine gun Pillboxes.

You Know Where You Are With said...

Yes, machine gun pillboxes--I recognize their equivalents from the coast of France and the coast of Scotland, 'though these have re-naturalized better!

Catalyst said...

It must have been an aromatic day with all of that guano!

Anonymous said...

For some reason you don't looked pleased in the picture. How was the water, choppy?

Granny J said...

meggie -- possibly specially adapted plants, though there was a helluva lot more guano than there were plants.

tombo & ykwyaw -- thank you for the follow-up; I had always known the term pillbox from The War, but didn't have a mental picture of one.

Cat-A -- actually, we were a full zoom away from the cliffs; besides, the winds conjured up by the ship's motion would have cleared up any remaining odors...

steve -- that's just my stern grin; I was having a grand time.

The Artful RV Adventurer said...

Thats a heck of a post... set the bar a tad high. Thanks for all the photos and sharing your thoughts on Alaska. mark

Granny J said...

mark -- it's been an education and a half, and a lot of fun to boot. Too bad it'll be over so soon!

Margaret Cloud said...

What great pictures, thanks for sharing them.

Granny J said...

cloudy -- never have I been more thankful for that 12X zoom lens which let me got "close" to the birds & the sea lions.

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