Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 25: Seabold

Two new visitors today, I saw a harbor seal following me and a nice sea run cutthroat trout under the Agate Pass bridge. Riding the current out of the passage and along the shore was fun, until a huge eddy put me against the current for about a half mile.

The day was perfect, sunny and getting warmer. I wasn't cold getting out of my wetsuits. The drive to my parking site at the exit and my walk along the shore were both nice, I'm swimming south now along the more rural western shore of the island. Here's the view looking south from Hidden Cove Road (left photo). Yes, those mountains are real, they're the Olympic range on the Olympic Peninsula just west of Bainbridge. Here's the view looking north towards the bridge just visible in the distance (right photo).

I think I'm 2/3 done, with 28 miles covered out of an estimated total swim of about 40 miles. Once a week and I'll be done by the end of June.

air temp: 57F
water temp: 45F
April 7, 2009, noon, sunny
wind from the north, 5-10 mph
low tide, rising
visibility 5-15 feet
today's distance: 1.54 mile
total so far: 28.49 miles

today's notables:
harbor seal
sea run cutthroat trout
piddocks and geoducks

I park at Hidden Cove Road road end, and start walking up the shore to the bridge. The tide is just starting to flood, and I can see current running south, the direction I'll be swimming.

I get in just under the bridge and head southwest with the flooding tidal current, ready to turn south once I clear out of the narrow pass. What's this? Just as I reach the end of the pass, I see an adult sea run cutthroat trout, a fantastically beautiful fish, and a very lucky find in the ocean. They live nearshore, and run up the Bainbridge creeks to spawn in the early spring. They're sparse in the ocean, I'm happy to see one.

A fishing friend confirms that searun cutts hold in the pass, hugging both shores, right exactly where I saw mine. I didn't have a chance for a picture, so click here for a nice underwater picture of a sea run cutthroat trout.

Coming out of the pass, I see more kelp than anywhere else I've been, some tangles of it whipping in the current. Also some fields of some big clams.

The current works with me for maybe a half mile, then suddenly turns against me in a big eddy. I swim hard to get through, but it lasts for about a half mile, making for a longish swim through this middle section. The water is fairly murky, and it's mostly hard work and not too exciting, until I notice a harbor seal peering at me from further off shore, maybe 30-40 feet away.

I hold very still, with just my eyes out of the water, watching. The seal watches back. Finally, it ducks underwater and I watch half in-half out of the water. I swear I can just see it at the faint edge of visibility, but I can't be sure. I wait for a couple of minutes and don't see it, so I start swimming slowly, watching both underwater and above the surface. Finally, it surfaces right in my wake, exactly where I was when I first noticed the seal. It's following me for sure. Then it ducks underwater and I don't see it again.

Meanwhile, the current is still working against me. Until, suddenly, I'm out of it and the current is pushing me forward again. Thank goodness, I was getting a bit tired.

There are fields and fields of clams here (see photo at right), they look like piddocks to me thanks to some ID tips from commenters.

The last half mile passes quickly, running with the fairly swift current. I'm out, it's sunny and warmer, the beach is beautiful and the far shore is ringed by snow-capped mountains, and a bald eagle is flying overhead. Just another ordinary day on Bainbridge Island, with an ocean to enjoy and land to admire.

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