Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Words On A Wednesday: Harbor Seal

You probably remember the faraway photos I've posted here of Harbor Seals lounging along the mouth of the Mad River. We often stop at a vista point to see them when we are heading south from the short trip up the coast to hike Trinidad Head or Houda Cove. Well, we made a little trip north the other day to run some errands (nothing exciting at all) and thought it would be a good idea to stop at the vista point on the way home, walk down to the beach and try to get a better look. So we did. Except when we got down to where the trail is, we saw this.
Oh bummer. I seem to remember the gate was closed the last time we ventured down this way. Well, I still thought we should try to get down there. We weren't going to go to the sandy beach, which this gate was trying to prevent. We wanted to hike the trail along the hills there above the river and ocean. Luckily other people had the same desire and had long ago done this.
Yes, we were scofflaws. We saw a chance to get on to the trail, so we took it. We just wanted to see the Harbor Seals just a little bit closer.
One thing we hadn't thought about, though, was the tide. Why even consider checking the tide chart when you're just heading to the store? So, I didn't. Turns out that the tide was coming in in a very big way, heading up to a significant high tide of +7.4 right then. There wasn't very much sand left on the other side of the river for the seals to be lounging on at all. We weren't deterred though. We still wanted to walk the little trail above the river.
It was quite beautiful walking along there, looking up river. We loved the calming peace of it all (and the blue skies and the sunshine).
And then, because sometimes timing is everything, this little seal decided to pop up and say hello. I think it must have heard us talking as we were walking along. We waved and said hello back. And yes, we were so glad we had ventured down the trail to take a look.

PS-- The first two comments on the post made me realize I need to explain why the gate was closed. It's to protect Western Snowy Plover habitat. We knew we were not going to be walking on the beach at all, but on a narrow wooded footpath on the hill side of the river.  Plover season ends in September, but I think the gate is never opened anymore. Not sure why. Here is a link to some interesting info about Plovers on the north coast here and what has devastated their numbers.


22 comments:

  1. Why was the beach closed? Turtle season or something?

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    1. Paul-- The sign says that it's closed for Plovers, but it's always closed. Plover season ends in September, and we knew we were not going to walk on the beach at all. We were walking a narrow wooded trail along the river on the hill side, not the beach side.

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  2. Was the gate closed because the tide was going to be unusually high? Glad you didn't get stranded! (And you had a seal sighting!)

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    1. Steve-- The warning sign was for Plovers, so we ignored it because we knew we weren't going into Plover habitat at all. I think if it had been a King Tide, we would have been more careful. Those tides are really significant, and we read the local coast news every morning. I'm not even sure though a King Tide would cross the river to where we were. I'll probably have to google around to find out. Yes, a seal sighting!

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  3. I love your engagement with nature. It makes me wistful for it in my own life, which i suppose is the first step in going out and engaging with the natural world myself. lovely being here, as always.

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    1. 37paddington-- The beauty of our planet is what keeps me sane. We love walking and falling in love with what see.

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  4. So glad the cute little fellow decided to reward you efforts. Glad to see the explanation for the closed gate.

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    1. Patti-- There were seals swimming up and down the river, but this one popped up to say hello. We loved it!

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  5. Ah wondered why the gate was closed. Nice you saw a seal

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  6. Scofflaws, indeed! Glad you were, too.

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  7. Love the seal photo. So many times I would be walking on the beach alone and realize I was not alone at all. A single curious seal or sea lion would be gazing at me. It always felt as if I were being welcomed home. As always, I love the multi-sensory memories I get when I see your ocean photos.

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    1. am-- Isn't it the coolest thing to make eye contact with a seal! We love it. So glad you like these ocean photos.

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  8. I love the way you two wander. Such a lovely place. And a real bonus looking right at you this time.

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    1. NCmountainwoman-- We do like to wander and most especially at the coast. It's nice when the wildness looks back!

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  9. just a couple of criminals, you two!

    I remember hopping a good-sized locked gate with you some years back....some things never change.

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    1. Tara-- We are such criminals. Bad, very very bad! Wow, I do remember hopping that gate with you too. I think it must have been in Grass Valley. You little lawbreaker you!

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  10. What a nice fellow. I love seal. We often watched the seal messing about in Dublin bay when we lived there. Recently, they have started coming right into the city up the harbour.

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    1. Sabine-- I love that you watched the seal messing around in Dublin Bay. They are such interesting mammals.

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  11. As someone who has always lived far from the sea, the experience of being near a large body of water is profoundly emotional. I feel a tug from my very core, a longing to be a part of all that beauty...but at the same time, the power and weight of that body of water is frightening to me (I don't know how to swim and I know that even swimmers can sometimes be defeated by currents). But then an adorable little head pops up out of the water and squints at me (via the photo) and the seal makes me laugh and remember that my thoughts do tend to get pretentious sometimes!

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    1. CCorax-- Your comment reminds me that I took my very first steps as a nine month old baby on the sandy beach to the ocean. My twin brother crawled behind me! I think there is an instinctive tug to the ocean. I haven't been in the ocean in years. Too cold up here, and really it is so awesomely unfathomably deep and huge and profound, it's a little scary to consider. Just walking along the shoreline is breathtaking. About that seal, it was in the river! They were swimming up and down the river while the tide was till rising.

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