Watching the Sea Lions Dine on Salmon for Thanksgiving

Thursday November 27, 2014 Jenner CA.

Fish eating action

Since they opened the river’s mouth yesterday, big fish can get into the river to head up to spawn. That means I might see some big fish getting eaten type action today, so I headed off to Jenner as soon as I got it going.

I arrived to a nice sunny day with low wind, so it started out real nice.

Action starts quick

Just as I got into my boat and shoved off from the boat ramp, I heard a big splash and looked out in front of the ramp to see this sea lion and some seagulls. The splash and the seagulls sitting on the water meant to me that a big fish was being devoured, so I approached with camera in hand.

This was my first view of the action. The sea lions started to move off to the left slowly as I followed.sealion

 

They wouldn’t show the fish

I could see a lot of splashing and some red in the water, but they wouldn’t show the fish they were eating under the water. They’d just come up for air briefly and disappear again.splash

 

The seagulls were diving getting pieces of fish as I watched.splash2

 

I watched and took many photos trying to get a shot of the big fish, but wasn’t having much success. The sea lions move very fast in the water and don’t stay still long to get photos of them.sealion2

 

Where next?

I have to guess where a sea lion may pop up next with my finger ready to press the button just as it surfaces to get a shot of these fast moving critters. In other words, I have to press the camera button before I see a picture I might want. Makes things interesting and lucky we have digital film these days.

The seagulls were doing some acrobatics getting pieces of fish and I saw the fish a couple times, but couldn’t get any pics of the fish.gulls

 

I took lots of photos like this one, except in this one, the seagull is about to swallow a piece of the salmon.gull

 

Finally, the salmon

And finally, I was able to capture the fish. The sea lion and fish are still covered with water as they just surfaced and will be gone in the next moment. This is what I mean by pressing the button before the picture develops. A moment ago that sea lion was under the water, not to be seen.sealionfish

 

Now, that’s better. They are just in front of me now, maybe thirty feet away and have mostly stopped moving off. Some serious feeding going on now.fish

 

Of course, I still saw more splashes than fish.splash3

 

Here, a sea lion is dragging the fish away from another sea lion that is out of  the picture to the left.lionfish

 

I had been watching this for about forty five minutes now and they had eaten most of the salmon and were getting down to the tail.fishtail

I watched the tail go down

Just after I took this photo, I saw one of them finally swallow the rest of the fish, down the hatch, tail last.fish2

 

After they swallowed the tail, things calmed down a bunch and all the sea lions headed down towards the mouth together.

Headed down to the mouth

High tide was coming up, so I headed down towards the river’s mouth also, along the north shore of Penny Island, where I ran into a bunch of coots feeding. I skirted around them as not to bother them too much and they didn’t fly off.russianriver

 

Opened river’s mouth

I worked my way down to the freshly opened river’s  mouth where I sat around and watched for awhile.

Here I am just inside the opened mouth looking out into the Pacific ocean.rivermouth

 

From there I continued off to the right to the end of the river where I sat around until it was past high tide.

Napping sea lions

I watched the sea lions doing what I call napping. They seem to pile up with one or two of them on the surface and several others in a pile under the surface ones. They look like this as they lay around digesting their earlier meal of fresh fish.napping

 

I left them to their napping and headed on in for the day. I passed by several of these little grebe fishing along the shoreline.grebe

 

I continued on in for the day and went on home for a nice nap myself.

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