Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall: On the Beach

It's fall and the Heerman's gulls again make their contrarian fall migration northward from Baja California to our local beaches and elsewhere along the northern Pacific coastline.  Other gulls are here, too, but my identification skills with the other gull species are not so good, especially with the juvenile phases and subtle seasonal variations.  The American widgeons are here and later in the winter we'll see other ducks, the red-breasted mergansers and the goldeneyes, common and Barrows.
I encountered several beached lion's mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata), the largest known species of jellyfish.  Jellyfish usually die off this time of year as their food supply of plankton dwindles.
Harbor seals are the most abundant marine mammal in Puget Sound.  Harbor seal pups can be found on the beach in the late summer and fall, resting as mother forages.  People may come across a seal pup on the beach and think it is abandoned but it is not.  The pups must not be disturbed.  Seal Sitters is a volunteer group dedicated to the protection of marine mammals in the urban environment along Puget Sound.  I came across a Seal Pup last year but this year I came across one that was unfortunately dead.  Seal pup mortality is relatively high as I understand.

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