Sunday, May 19, 2013

Line 'Em Up!

Got out on the water with my friend Nicole the other day. This wasn't her first time in a kayak, if you count paddling round a quiet lake (and yup, I count it!) at her family cabin. But it was her first time on salt water, and she hadn't been in a canoe or kayak for a long while, so we took out my double kayak.
Okay, it's a sit-on-top, not a sea kayak, but it's still a nice ride when I'm not sure how hard the bow paddler wants to work after the first half hour. The StraitEdge2 is a good, stable ride on flat water... and one day our paddle group will have to take it out on a day that's bumpy. Or maybe we'll take it down a Class 1 river.

This tough inflatable is holding up well, even though it is no longer new.
This day was a nice quiet day on Cadboro Bay, with barely any breeze or ripples on the water. Nicole and I carried the boat to shore, followed the beach along to the cliffs on the east shore, and began seeing a marvelous line-up of wildlife.
First were the sea anemones. There are a lot more of the white and brown sea anemones living along this rocky shore now than there were five years ago. Since the tide was out, there were several places where anemones were only five or six feet down. It was easy to find them! Nicole was charmed to get a good look at the cauliflower-shaped anemones, and even more when we found sea stars clinging to some rocks. These were ochre stars, in their purple colour phase.
As we went along the shore, past Stein Island and around Flower Island, we saw more sea stars than I've seen before along this shore. That was pretty neat for Nicole's first time kayaking in the bay. Even better was when she turned round and spotted the head of a little harbour seal bobbing behind us. Could this be Mama Seal who comes out often when I'm paddling here? I think so: slim, grey, and spotted.
With almost no breeze, it was a good day to go round Flower Island. Though we didn't spot any otters today, their little trails were visible in the brush under the trees. It was while drifting along here that we saw the biggest animal in the day's wildlife line-up. A splash just offshore in the current told us that a big seal was fishing. It came up, and looped back down again, showing an impressive length of brown flank. A sea-lion! We don't see those every day, but it was far too large to be a harbour seal. It could even have been a young elephant seal, but that was less likely than a sea-lion.

Coming back, I sent a SPOT message so that it could be forwarded to Nicole later. Herons flew past as we returned to the beach, and the day looked a little brighter than it had when we set out. All in all, good time on the water and good hot chocolate at Olive Olio's afterward.

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