Skip to main content

Steller's Sea-lion

Our party spent about six hours today exploring remote, rocky shorelines of Resurrection Bay and vicinity, near Seward, Alaska. Our vessel was the Orca Explorer, a catamaran craft well-suited to these sometimes ice-choked chilly waters. The rocky coasts teem with animal life: we saw thousands of Horned and Tufted Puffins, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common Murres, some Thick-billed Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Marbled Murrelets, Pigeon Guillemots, Black Oystercatchers, and much more.

But for many people, it was the mammals that trumped all. We had great looks at Humpback Whale, Orca, Dall's Porpoise, Harbor Seal, Black Bear, Mountain Goat, and more.

A meeting of gregarious Steller's Sea-lions, hauled out on a rocky shore. These massive beasts are quite social, and often gather by the dozens. Males - bulls - can be enormous, with exceptional whoppers tipping the scales at 2,200 pounds and stretching the tape to 11 feet.

We observed several gatherings of Steller's Sea-lions; this group contains some young pups. Rather cute, but it would be a mistake to try and pet one. The adults are ill-tempered and intimidating - not animals to be trifled with. Males are much larger than females, and this group appears to contain several young. A couple of these sea-lions have identification numbers emblazoned upon them; there are numerous active research projects ongoing.

Steller's Sea-lions have declined by as much as 80% from historical high populations. Much of that was due to over-harvesting, a situation that has been dealt with. Yet, populations have not rebounded well, and the reasons are not fully understood. This animal and nearly all other marine mammals - not too mention birds and many other species - are extremely vulnerable to oil spills. The absolute unmitigated BP-caused catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico should teach us all a lesson about the fragility of marine life.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.


So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…