April 12, 2011
Action adventure sushi.
I had posted these [uh, fascinating!] pix on my Facebook page less than a month back; I shot them on the fly from my desk, where a camera is always at the ready for ew-inspiring moments like this one. Yup, another day at the office here at Shapiro Seafaring Notes Worldwide. Just a moment ago, an almost identical scene took place a few yards from where I type this, only instead of watching a harbor seal eat lunch, today’s drama was played out when another unfortunate local octopus landed in the jaws of an enormous Steller Sea Lion, easily more than twice the size of the mammal pictured here. Thrashing! Diving! Sudden resurfacing! Attack gulls shrieking with joy, scavenging what they can! Tentacles, suction cups and flippers akimbo! Water everywhere! Razor sharp sea mammal teeth! Ouch! It’s completely riveting to watch these life and death struggles, loud and messy. My desire to remain in the voyeuristic moment often overrides my urge to grab the camera. And usually overrides my ability to shoot clearly even if I have it. It’s all just too damn exciting. I’d make a terrible photo journalist.
New from Apple: The cephaloPod.
I’m stunned by the feeding frenzies that take place every day in front of me. Freelance musicians at an industry reception hors d’oeuvres table have nothing on this. I’ve seen large, whole, live orange Dungeness crabs haplessly carried through the air by a single tad-too-slow crustacean leg clamped in the beak of a lucky seagull, as both creatures in turn were closely chased by a multitude of frantic, ravenous sea birds and hawks.
I’ve watch countless Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers and cormorants standing in the tide pools, quickly ducking their heads and coming up time and time again with wriggling, eel-like gunnel fish whose slimy green curling smoothness still can’t elude their predator’s hunger. Gulls and eagles do their best to snatch anything they can the moment the diner’s guard is lowered. Ya snooze, ya lose.
And a most indelible moment just a few weeks ago: the sight of a bald eagle flying low and straight-on toward my desk, with a thick, pink, three-foot long octopus tentacle dangling down from its massive yellow talons, limply gliding through the air, looking something like a mid-air refueling effort gone terribly wrong. A flock of gulls screamed as they raced to snatch stretchy bites of this fly-through fast food offering, but the eagle out paced them. This time.
I have no photos of these sudden, extreme moments. You can understand why.
Can I get some hot sake to go with this?
One creature dies so that another may live. Yeah, it’s the natural order of things, and yet it’s still gut-wrenching to watch, as I root for both animals simultaneously, knowing that only one will survive. I rarely go to the movies.
The other day I was pushing my cart through the aisle of our market here in Friday Harbor, calmly selecting items of my liking off the shelves and blithely placing them into my basket. Somewhere between the crab legs and the Ben and Jerry’s, I stopped and watched other shoppers pass me, smiling at me, completely uninterested in the booty I’d hoarded for my meal. No threat. No competition. No need to desperately fling my entire body across the top of my metal cart to protect its treasured contents from the onslaught of other hungry, scavenging, violent humans, lest I go without eating that night. No one was going to try to steal my food. Imagine that. I had the luxury of sauntering through the market with other primal, needy humans, without fear of being attacked. What a contrast to the way most other creatures (and yes, some unfortunate humans) exist. I went home, unpacked my groceries, and marveled at the ease with which I could continue to live for another day.
Just who is eating whom?
It’s not all death, gore and struggle that I see, though. Two afternoons ago, on April 10th, I raised my head just as two adult bald eagles alighted in the tree to my right, its high, exposed limb bouncing from their combined weight. Moments later, the male hopped on top of the female, and I witnessed roughly seven seconds of excited, flapping hawk porn as the next generation of eaglets began. Magical. I’d like to think that it was something about my music that set the inspiring tone for these romantically-inclined love birds, but I was only emptying the garbage at the time. Sigh.
I have no photos of that sudden, wonderful moment. You can understand why.
Ok, I’m done playing my scales and now I’m hard of herring!