14 October 2009

Grey seals, gannet and other discoveries

A week ago I made a wonderful trip with Mart Karremans and Herman Nijhuis, two 'strandwerk'-friends, to the Westerschelde. We took kayaks to go to the Hooge Platen, a sandbank.

There is a small dune on the sandbank. It even has a name: De Bol.

Herman and Mart searching and studying molluscs. I went looking for patterns, shapes and colours.

The oysters had wonderful colours. The red-brown colour is due to iron in the ground.

A bivalve heavily pierced by the boring sponge Cliona celata.

Even rubbish is a photo opportunity.

When we approached it from behind, we first thought it was a great northern loon, Gavia immer (NL: ijsduiker). When we saw its head it was obvious: a juvenile gannet (Morus bassanus). I adore adult gannets with their beautiful yellow head fading into white, just as juvenile gannets, with their patterned feathers. We couldn't establish its cause of death.

It was perfect weather and a calm sea, so Mart and I decided to kayak to another sandbank near Breskens. En route we encountered around 15 grey seals (Halichoerus grypus).

It looks just like a submarine. Grey seals, especially the males, are impressive animals. The bridge of their nose is higher and make them look less cute than the harbour seal, Phoca vitulina (NL: gewone zeehond). Males can reach 2,3 meter and weigh to 310 kilo. Two times I saw a seal jumping out of the water like a dolphin.

They were very curious and 5 seals followed us to the other sandbank. As soon as we landed, they lost their interest. When we paddled back, they followed us in minutes.

Photo: Mart Karremans

One of the beautiful patterns. More of this natural art I will soon reveal on my weblog: mick otten's nieuws van het fotografenfront
Wipe that stupid grin of your face! Sorry: kayaking with friends, perfect weather, curious grey seals and beautiful sand patterns. Why should I stop grinning?
Photo: Mart Karremans