Harbor Seals and Sea Lions Dining on Salmon in Front of the Visitor Center in the Russian River Estuary

Thursday October 23,2014 Jenner CA.

Off to Jenner this morning to the overlook at the river’s mouth to check it out.

The river’s mouth did blow open at the low tides last night. When it blows out, the river level drops rather fast, all the way up past Monte Rio.

Here is the blown out wide open river’s mouth as I saw it from the overlook this morning.rivermouth


Compare the above photo to the one yesterday of the channel they cut through the sand which starts this blown out process, which usually takes place when the ocean goes to low tide, which causes the sand in the channel to flow like water opening up the mouth deep and wide.pacific


Of course I shot the bull with all the people at the overlook for a bit, then went on over to the visitor center launch ramp and put my boat in the water.

Right off the bat, just off the boat ramp, I noticed a harbor seal with a big fish, likely a big salmon as that is what spawns most at this time of year. That seal showed me a nice big fish, but  then dived down and I lost it and wasn’t able to get a picture of it.

But I noticed there were more harbor seals with fish, around five or so in the immediate area and at least a couple sea lions swimming around hunting too.

Watch for big splashes

One of the first signs I see that a seal might have a big fish is big splashes repeatedly.splash


And the other indicator even if I don’t see any fish is there are usually one or two seagulls sitting on the water waiting for and eating little pieces of fish the seals drop as they eat the fish under the water. Harbor seals do most of their eating under the water. When they come up for air, which is sometimes only for a few seconds, I try to get a picture of the fish they are eating, if they show it, sometimes they keep the fish hidden, so it’s hard go get pictures of them with the fish, but I try. Good thing digital film is mostly free as I get a lot of pictures of the water while trying to get pictures of the seals with the fish.

Sea lions are even harder to get pictures of as they usually only surface for a second and are under the water again and they move a lot faster than the harbor seals.

This harbor seal just surfaced and then was back under the water.sealeats


I didn’t do too well getting pictures of this fish eating, but I did try  hard.

Here’s another  seal with what’s left of a big fish.seal3


And another seal pops up covered with water, just for an instant and then was under the water again. I watch where the seagulls are as they are usually on top of the feeding seals waiting for scraps and they do pretty good as the seals tear into the fish.seal


River’s mouth area

After trying to get pictures of the fish being eaten, I left them to it and headed down to the just opened river’s mouth area.

I passed these preening brown pelicans as I entered the mouth area.preening


Avoiding boat ramp rage

I hung around the mouth area watching for quite some time before heading back to the boat ramp. There were a bunch of boat trailers parked at the ramp. Even though some of the people  were coming with boats, these guys were blocking the ramp, about forty five minutes before any of their boats showed up. Rude.ramp


Not wanting to get a case of ramp rage, I paddled back across  the river to Penny Island and into the little channel at the east end for a good rest.

Then I paddled up the river to eagle’s  landing passing this little grebe on the way.grebe


I also passed this harbor seal, now full of salmon and needing a bit of a nap. They sure  have large whiskers, likely for feeling around under the water when visibility is bad?whisker


Boat ramp still plugged up

Eventually, I paddled back over to the boat ramp to see if the guys there had become any more considerate of the other people that might want to use the ramp.

They still had the ramp blocked up good and there were still quite a few people of the bunch that were still out, so I paddled back over to Penny Island trying to wait them out.ramp2


I paddled back into the little channel of the east end of Penny Island and took it easy.channel


Then I paddled back up the river to this spot just ahead and just floated around in my boat and rested with the harbor seals.upview


I floated around near these two resting harbor seals until almost five PM, when I finally saw all the boat trailers leaving the boat ramp area.harborseals


That was my clue to head on in for the day. I had avoided boat rage, but people that don’t think and hog the boat ramp bug me, especially commercial people such as this.  You’d think they’d respect using an area and be more considerate. Unfortunately, they are mostly just ignorant of what they are doing thinking no one else wants to use the boat ramp, just because no one is baring down on them to use the ramp. Sometimes I do bare down, but then I get ramp rage and that always ruins the rest of the day for me, so I usually try to avoid that.

Still, a nice day out kayaking with the harbor seals and watching them enjoying their salmon.

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2 Responses to Harbor Seals and Sea Lions Dining on Salmon in Front of the Visitor Center in the Russian River Estuary

  1. Binky Castleberry says:

    I enjoy your site, but for me it would be very helpfui, when U R close, if U could tell me the status of the river mouth.

    • admin says:

      Hi Binky,
      I thought I was pretty much doing what you ask, either saying so, or showing a picture, but maybe I’m not getting what you are asking?

Comments are closed.