Circus of Animals

sea lion

Herring have drawn a circus of flying and swimming animals to Auk Bay. Aki and I watch large rafts of mergansers, murres, marble murrelets and gulls charge across the bay towards huge balls of panicked herring. A gang of at least forty or fifty stellar sea lions surge after the same fish. On the edge of the chaos, harbor seals timidly hunt through lesser concentrations of feed. We spot a seal and pup that show more interest in my little dog than the herring.

seal family

Even a solitude-loving great blue heron is here, forgoing the peace of the solo hunt for a chance to gorge in the harbor. He stands on a walkway next to a line of hungry gulls. He peers into water made dark with herring, lifting his wings to the take off position whenever the sea lion gang explodes out of the water to roil and bark.

heron

The little dog watches intently, but in silence. I inventory my emotions—wonder at so many sea birds too busy to notice us, joy shared with the raucous sea lions, pity for the sad faced seals, admiration for the heron with whom I share an ironic need for solitude.

gang

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