Wednesday, January 19, 2005

BB2 female 11/9/85

BB2 female 11/9/85
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
BB2 was named for her belly wound. in the seven years that I knew her, it never healed. Sometimes it would be torn and bleeding others it would just be raw. A seal's belly is like the soles of our feet... they hitch along the rocks when they haul out, over jagged edges and barnacles. On this day it could be that she snagged it when she moved.

I wonder if the water prevented it from healing because it never could dry out, but the salt staved off a life threatening infection. She seemed healthy all those years and succesfully raise several pups.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Honcho* 1-83

Honcho* 1-83
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
Then there was the very gentle male named Honcho who was very loyal to this haul out.

Here is a picture that shows the distinguishing H mark on the left side of his head.

Harbor seal

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Matriarchs:Denthead, Scarchest, Claudia

84 2-? Scarchest 650
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
Several other seals look a lot like Stevie Wonder. They have what I call a "grizzled" appearance and I thought of them as the matriarch of the group. There is Scarchest, who may have been menopausal, since she had no pups while I was there. I recognized her by a little scar mid-chest which you can see if you click on the picture. That will take you to the larger version on flickr

The same with Claudia. She had a similar grizzled appearance and much like Stevie Wonder and Scarchest. She did not have any pups either in the time I was there.
Claudia female 2/21/85
Denthead was the third grizzled female she was a good deal larger than Scarchest and Claudia but look very similar. Each one has some distinguishing feature which allowed me to tell these four seals apart even though they had the same pelage coloration.
rest1 copy

Sunday, January 09, 2005

1982 3/? Stevie Wonder

1982 3/? Stevie Wonder
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
This is Stevie Wonder. It was a real surprise to see her with a pup, I had to totally revise my thoughts about her!

Both of her eyes are opaque, like she has cataracts. I suspect she can see shadows and movement, but her head moves in such a way that leads me to believe she doesn't track visually, rather by sound.

In spite of her handicap, she successfully raised two pups in the time I knew her and looked plump and healthy.


rest1 copy
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
Slowly but surely I will introduce the seals I got to know over the eight year period that I observed them. Then I will flesh out their stories over time.

Friday, December 31, 2004

The Haulout ledges

1983 11- H. and W.R
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
A picture of the winter rocks from one of my observation points. This was the ledge the seals used most... the little ledge halfway between me and the winter rocks are the hummock and little hummock.

When the winter rocks was full, seals would spill over onto these two ledges. But the tide would wash over them sooner than any of the positions on the winter rocks.

Aerial of haul out ledge

k'port 2
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
This shows the ledges and my observation from a bit closer. Great Hill cove, mentioned in the previous post is just beyond the upper left hand corner of the photograph.

Drawing of Study site

Drawing of Study site
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
The numbers in the cove on the left are places I have seen seal in the water at hightide. At high tide the ledges would be covered with water and seals would often stay around, bottling and feeding in Great Hill cove. Only a short distance from where they had hauled out.

K'port seal study site 1980-1988

K'port seal study site
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
I will start laying out the structure of my Kennebunkport harbor seal study, using photographs are the bare bones which I will go back and flesh out with more description.

This is the aerial photo of my study site. If you click on the link back to flickr there is the full sized version with notes on the photograph.

Monday, October 25, 2004

24 years of harbor seal observations

24 years worth of notes, observations and photographs make a very large pile. If I stacked all my notebooks and albums on top of each other it would be more than 6' tall. Here they all sit in my office, threatening, like those National Geographic magazines in the attic, to collapse the floor with their weight. I have made many attempts to write a book but end up feeling stilted and isolated... I am not a writer by choice anymore than I am a computer geek or blogger. They are tools.

In that six feet of words and pictures there are stories, stories about seals that I have watched for eight years or more, stories about humpback whales that have captured my heart, stories about how I ended up spending most of my adult life doing this. And they aren't doing any good making my office floor groan... so here goes.

I will upload some of my past writing attempts, and work on them here, in effort to find a voice. I will upload pictures of my buddies: BB2, Honcho, Stevie Wonder (blind female) harbor seals that came regularly to a haulout off Kennebunkport and tell their stories. There is Fissure, Olympia, Tusk and Talon, humpback whales that we met repeatedly when I was working as naturalist on a whale watch boat. I will tell the stories of those encounters in my other blog "whaletales

I hope people will ask me questions and give suggestions to help me clarify what and how I say things. I hope other naturalists who are doing long term studies of an animal species will add their thoughts. Jane Goodall has been my inspiration and I dedicate this blog to her.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Resume of my adult life

Timeline of how I got from there to here. (Vermont teaching nursery school-->Maine studying seals)

- studied anthropology in college
- Married, worked with my 1st husband in VISTA (Domestic Peace Corp) at Santo Domingo Pueblo
- had a son and learned to mother... a full time job

1972- 1978
- got a masters in early childhood education and taught nursery school
- read Amos and Boris (William Steig) aloud to my son: the story about a mouse who is rescued by a whale and returns the favor.
- began to read all I could about whales, first in response to the nursery school kids fascination and then it bloomed into a fascination of my own
- went to a whale symposium in Bloomington Indiana (1973), the first gathering of marine mammal researchers and whale watch boat operators plus artists teachers and whale protection advocates
- agumented the whale curriculum from the symposium and brought it to my students plus several schools in Vermont.
- spent two weeks on the Regina Maris with Earthwatch, studying humpback whales on banks north of the Dominican Republic.
- and 6 weeks in the Bering Sea with NOAHH doing a Bowhead Whale survey
- went back to graduate school in Environmental Education

- divorced and moved to Maine where I worked for SALT teaching environmental education to teenagers "at risk"
- a lobsterman introduced me to the Strawberry Island seal haul out when I ran out of field trip ideas for my students.
- the SALT program folded (government funds withdrawn), and I continued observations on my own for the next 8 years.
- during the summer of 1986 and 1987 I worked as naturalist on a whale watch boat out of Kennebunkport, my son spent one of those summers as first mate on the boat which made even richer an already amazing experience.

- my second husband and I moved to downeast Maine and I started observing a second group of seals. This haulout is very different from the one in Kennebunkport:
- K'portt faced into open ocean, here ... a well protected bay.
- K'port used year round, here ...used from May through August
- K'port a mix of males and females with only a few pups seen each year, here ...a pupping ledge, the population is mostly female.