Harbor Seals and Cormorants Hunting Fish in Jenner

Friday March 14, 2014 Jenner CA.

Sometimes you can’t see unless you know what you are looking at

Yesterday, I was pretty sure the river ‘s mouth had closed, so today I went on down to the overlook off highway one and took a look. As I was driving into Jenner, I could see the water level was down about six inches from yesterday, which meant the river’s water had broken though the sand dam during the night and dropped the water level in the estuary a bit.

That all checked out when I got to the overlook and looked over the side at the river’s mouth.

It was open, but just barely. Given the fact that it was high tide when this picture was taken, I’m not sure any water is going into the ocean, as it looks like the ocean is breaking over the sand in this picture below. At any rate, open or closed, there isn’t a lot of water going into the ocean at this time and there is very little current in the estuary for the big fish that have spawned to head back to the ocean in, giving them direction.

Here is my view of the river’s mouth at high tide today. Note that most of the water is coming into the river from the high tide waves washing over the beach.rivermouth


I drove the short distance back to Jenner and put my boat in the water and headed on over to Penny Island, across the river. Spring is popping and all the grasses and vegetation is turning green. I sat at the east end of the island for a time just taking it easy.

Here is the spot I sat in on the east end of Penny Island and that is Jenner in the background.jenner


Eventually I headed on up the river and when I passed the east end of the island these two geese made a lot of honking noise and took off.geese


I was pretty lazy after yesterdays long kayak trip, so I didn’t go very far before stopping to enjoy the day.

I stopped in this spot for a bit, looking up river towards Eagle’s Landing on the right.upriver


I thought I’d do well to make it to Eagle’s landing today, so I worked my way up there. These two ducks took flight as I passed.ducksfly


Lots of cormorants in the water in front of me

I made it up to Eagle’s landing and was watching a bunch of cormorants sitting all over the water near Paddy’s rock, just across the river from me. I thought they were all just sitting around taking it easy, but I was wrong on that count.

Sometimes things can happen right in front of you and if you don’t know what is going on, you can miss a lot.


The clue to me that something else was going on, was when a seagull landed across the river from me and all of a sudden things changed. the seagull was a clue that there might be something to eat as they don’t miss out on much.

I started watching more closely and I didn’t have long to wait before other things started happening right in front of me.

This was my next clue something was going on. Harbor seals making splashes and on the hunt around the shore line.splash


Those cormorants were all on the hunt

I realized that all the cormorants in the water weren’t just sitting around doing nothing. No, they were on the hunt too, just like the harbor seals. Looking closely, I could see some of them were diving  and also splashing in the water chasing fish. Now, the fact that the cormorants were fishing with the harbor seals means they were all hunting smaller fish, not the big spawning steelhead as cormorants don’t go after these fish as they are too big for them to handle. These guys were all hunting the smaller fish, likely fish in schools.

I tried to get some good photos of it all, but that isn’t always so easy. Most of the action happens under the water with all these guys.

Here are some cormorants and seals hunting together.hunt


Some more cormorants and seals hunting smaller fish in front of Paddy’s rock.hunters


There are a lot of smolt and other small fish in the estuary right now. Like in small trout, which are small steelhead and small salmon heading to the ocean to start there ocean life. There are likely other small fish in the estuary too, but it’s not my job to identify them, as I’m only a guy enjoying the estuary and not a biologist. :O) See, it’s not so important to me.

Eventually the fish feed moved on up the river out of my sight and I turned around and started heading back down the river. I passed fairly close to these birds on an old redwood log. A female merganser, a cormorant and a pair of mallards with a couple cormorants swimming behind the log. There is almost always lots of bird life at Jenner in the estuary.birds


The wind had picked up a bit as I headed down towards the river’s mouth and I stopped here to watch for a bit. This is looking down towards the river’s mouth area from the North side of Penny Island.riverview


Like I said, I felt real lazy today, so I packed it in and went back to the launch ramp and took my boat out for the day.

The boat loader arm in action

Her is how the new boat loader extender arm I built the other day works. This is the first time to try it out. It works like this. I pick up the front of the boat and put it on the loader arm and then go to the back of the boat and pick it up and load the boat. I don’t have to pick up the full weight of the boat, saving my back, I hope. It works great and makes loading much easier for an older person.kayakloader


I went on home and and had a nap and eventually went outside to pick up some of the peach tree trimmings.

Peach trees blooming and some of the brush I moved to the mulch pile. I only did a little as my sprained ankle isn’t  up to 100 percent yet, but it’s getting there, another week maybe?yardwork


I wanted to do more, but thought better of it and just tried to take it easy for the rest of the day, planning my yard work.

Nice spring day and I enjoyed it.

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