We've returned from our annual two weeks at the
beach. Oh, the beach.
We saw invertebrates
of different kinds, colors, and shapes.
We saw at least three different kinds of sandpipers,
bald eagles, golden eagles, song birds, and pelicans.
But it was the mammals that were the real treat this
visit. There was the grey whale, the harbor seals,
deer (both fawns and does), and what was either a
drunk backpacker or a bear.
But the most unusual mammal we met was a baby
harbor porpoise. I was walking with my Mom and sister
O, when I saw something in the surf. It was small,
and had a dorsal fin. We watched for a while, as the
dark grey creature was rolled by the surf. It would
start to swim out to sea, and then get barrel rolled
back toward shore, until he started to swim straight
toward us, toward the beach. O and I cautiously moved
forward it, both of us wanting to be sure it wasn't a
shark before we tried to help. Once the waves had
left it on dry sand, we could clearly see the blow hole.
When we knew it was stranded, O picked it up. It was
small, less than three feet long, and light enough that
she could carry it alone. He went still and relaxed in
her hands. I walked with her into the water, to be sure
she wouldn't need help. O said he felt like a baby. Soft,
but muscular, fat around the middle, with a blunted
forehead, and dark grey all around. He remained calm
and relaxed until she'd walked beyond the breakers,
but once she pushed him into the water, toward open
sea, he started to swim with vigor and quickly disappeared
We watched from shore for a long time, but we didn't
see him again. That evening, Big E saw a pod of porpoises
swimming past. Since we didn't find our little friend on
the beach again, and we didn't hear of anyone else
finding him, I'm hopeful he found his momma again and
is living well.
Looking on the internet at baby sea mammals, the harbor
porpoise seems most likely. He was small, slightly chunky,
and solid dark grey. Harbor porpoises are rare enough
here, that we would have heard if a baby had been found.
And of course, I did not have my camera with me, so I
have no photos. Of course, if I'd had my camera, it might
not have survived my wade into the sea.