>> Sunday, September 1, 2013
Aside from the dogs, we did catch a glimpse of a few other wild creatures in Maine, though nothing too extraordinary.
First, an eagle butt:
I got the camera out and poised after he was mostly gone, but I do enjoy the fact that there's a lowly seagull in this shot along with the backside of a majestic eagle. There were, of course, PLENTY of seagulls, everywhere. It's nice to see them where they actually belong, rather than in McDonald's parking lots and garbage dumps. They actually have some charm on the coast.
We saw plenty of sea life on the shores, burrowing, oozing, sliming, etc.
I did not manage to do any real tide pooling this year. We did, however, discover the Down East Institute, which we did not know existed until we stumbled upon it looking for a restroom, and were offered a tour of. It's main brain is Brian Beal, who is affiliated with the University of Maine, Machias. They breed baby clams, mussels, oysters, and lobsters, study various things about them, and engage in educational outreach. They also use the clams to seed clam beds for fishermen. All those critters eat a LOT of algae, which they cultivate in huge bubbling beakers that look like they belong in a mad scientist's lab:
It was a fascinating place, and unfortunately I was so caught up in enjoying the science lessons that I took far too few photos. I learned that baby mussels start off so tiny they look like clouds of dirt in the water, not even large enough to look like sand grains. I discovered that baby clams are similarly microscopic, and they know when to put the infant clams in containers with screens for them to settle on when the babies grow feet. (Truly, they look for teensie baby clam feet under the microscopes). Then they become tiny shell specks that do look like sand, and which I would never know were actually alive unless I had been told they were. Infant mussels eventually start emitting long strands of mucous and wind them together, creating a current in their containers. When a group of baby mussels start creating their own currents, the scientists know to transfer them to containers with ropes for the mussels to cling to. I can't even begin to repeat all the other fascinating tidbits I learned, but I highly recommend the place if you ever find yourself in Jonesport, Maine.
As cool as the Down East Institute was, though, I have to confess that my favorite critter sighting was an ordinary harbor seal, which I had never seen in the wild before. While my husband and I sat watching the tides turn at the Reversing Falls, we spotted a few frolicking in the currents, seeming to enjoy the wild rides the whirlpools took them on. I love the fellow with his mouth open - not sure if he's howling with laughter, worshipping the sun, or yawning, but he's cute.