Fiddich, the dog, barks a certain way when he sees something in the channel and thinks we should know about it. Generally speaking, he just barks for boats that are headed towards our shore and whales. Sometimes a sea lion. Rarely a seal. Eagles, ravens, and osprey go unheralded mostly because he never looks up. He occasionally sees a mink, otter or some other mammal but this was not a ‘land’ alert. This was a warning of something interesting on the water. This was an ‘all hands on deck!’ bark. You can just tell.
We went out.
A transient pod of orcas was moving up the channel and we saw them. So had Fid. But they were way across the channel and so it really wasn’t relevant news. A few dorsal fins and pffts was all there was, really. We turned to go in. We thought Fid had over-reacted. He tends to do that now and again.
Then we saw it.
Just off our beach is a large rock. It is half-submerged or half-exposed, depending on the tide. It is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Right then, it was half exposed. And tucked in right behind it was a seal. And it was busy keeping the rock between it and the orcas.
Even though the orcas were almost half a mile away, the seal barely made a ripple on the surface. It moved imperceptibly so as to stay in place but there were no large seal-a-swimming type movements. He was making like a Lilly pad. This guy was hiding. Laying low. Making himself small.
And that is how we knew the pod was transient. Transient orcas eat mammals such as dolphins and seals. Resident orcas eat fish. And resident orcas are mammals so even they hide from the transients. The seal was definitely hiding.
It was not a David Attenborough moment. It was just a bit of nature that you rarely see. Hide and seek for real. Seal and orca. It was pretty neat watching that seal taking care of itself and not getting caught out. He/she was a long way off from the threat but still went into stealth mode and stayed put. It was as invisible as it could be for as long as it took for the transients to be far enough away so that the seal could slip out from behind the rock and head in the opposite direction.
That distance was about a mile before the seal felt safe. Once the transients were that far north, the seal headed south.
And we went back in the house. And you thought Downton Abbey has drama!