Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 26: Manzanita

A beautiful, blustery day and some strange magnetism drew me to what promised to be a murky swim. The wind was blowing alongshore and the sandy bottom was stirred. With the ongoing spring plankton bloom, I expect murky water and that's what I get.

Enjoy the sublime beauty of the day from the beach (right).

Below the surface, the conditions match my mood (left). Regardlesss, I want to plow through the thick water, swimming against the chop, and see if I can find some clearing.

air temp: 51F
water temp: 45F
April 11, 2009, 1pm, partly sunny
wind from the south, 10-20 mph
very low tide, rising
visibility 0-10 feet
today's distance: 0.98 mile
total so far: 29.47 miles

today's notables:
river otter
sand dollars

I park at Dock Road, there's a small sign memorializing Manzanita Landing, which dates back to the late 1800s. Walking the beach to my start, I see two interesting sights. Sand dollars exposed by the very low tide (right). Lots of sand dollars.

And then a river otter, scrambling across the beach from a stream. It hops into the ocean, looks around, and dives underwater. Too quick to get a picture. I've heard of the river otters going into the ocean and now I've seen it. I wait around but it doesn't show itself again.

One day running at Ft. Ward state park, I saw a big otter cross from a swampy area to jump into the ocean. I've seen a lot of sea otters in my life, and that's what it looked like. It seemed too big for a river otter, and it was stocky rather than the thin weasel shape of a river otter. Odds say it was a river otter, but it REALLY looked like a sea otter. Today's otter is small and weasel-looking, it's a river otter for sure.

I get in the water by Hidden Cove Rd, and it's murky. Darkish and hard to see, this will be more of a swim than a dive. I wander further from shore and closer to shore, looking for patches of better visibility. At one point I can't see my hands held out at arm's length in front of my face. It's still fun to swim, even when I can't see much. Finally, I get a bit of clarity, maybe 5 feet of visibility (left).

Yeah, that's after a bit of clearing. I'm in about 4 feet of water and I can just barely see the bottom. Suddenly, out of the gloom I can see the sun, a bright glowing sunflower star (right). This picture is completely unaltered, no added brightness or color. It's a truly amazing orange starfish.

Plowing head on through small waves and thick murky water eventually gets me to the end of the swim, Manzanita Landing at Dock Rd. Next, historic Manzanita Bay, home of some of the island's early industry and a big dock.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this ongoing adventure! I've seen otters in Blakely harbor (only near the mouth) and also on the shore at dusk (an adult and 2 youngsters) near the intersection of NE country club road and upper farms road east of blakely harbor. They didn't seem large and I assume they were river otters because i've never seen them on their backs, but I don't know for sure.
rob dryden