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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fishing Seals

Yesterday late in the day I looked outside and saw a harbor seal right off our front porch!

We watched until it dove, then went outside to see if he might come back up. The first thing we noticed was a massive school of thousands and thousands of bait fish just under the surface of the water (see left). While we often see small schools of fish, I have never seen nearly that many. Just when we thought the seals had left, we saw a huge wave of water coming towards us, then saw not one but two seals swimming towards the fish! Their underwater acrobatics were amazing to watch as they herded the school, weaving back and forth in tight figure eights. The seals would go down for long dives, and even when they surfaced they would roll over onto their backs. This way their nose could be out of the water as they caught their breath, but they could still keep both eyes on the school of fish below them (see the photo below).


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Monika

Is this the same seal as we have here in the UK, P.vitulina? we don't get them along our coast but they are common in Scotland and on the east coast of England.

Once had a great swim in a shoal of bait fish with terns diving all around me


Vera said...

I love how the seal swims upside-down to keep an eye on the fish. Your blogs are always SO interesting!

Michele Wassell said...

Adorable seal... I never knew they swam upside down... Have a great weekend.

The K said...

The NW harbor seals are Phoca vitulina. This site tells about them.

Great photo of the seal. Wish the fish were easier to see.

Monika said...

Hi Dave, As The K mentioned, it is the same species of seal!

The K, I agree, but I was just happy the fish showed up at all as it was getting dark out and they were underwater.

Thanks for the kind comments Vera and Michele!

Vickie said...

What a fun experience to see the seals herding fish. Love the upside down photo and the info about keeping their eyes on the fish. Fun post.