Seals, Sea Otters, & Sea Lions … Oh My!

We never know what to expect when we arrive in Valdez.  Usually, we treated to an adventure of some type and the weather generally is a mixed bag.  The landscape is always fairly predictable, while the wildlife sightings are varied … sometimes we get grizzly bears,   black bears, sea otters, bald eagles, and bunny rabbits.

We decided to try our luck with finding some bears by the salmon hatchery, but we didn’t find any this trip.  We did see the usual bald eagles hanging out for an easy dinner and lots of other birds.  Then we saw them … lots of seals … in a feeding frenzy going after the salmon which were high in numbers._DSC6339Now this wasn’t the first time that we’ve seen the seals, but it’s the first time that they were so numerous, close, and quite honestly, so animated.  They were quite curious with us and would often come close and give us great photo ops.  How absolutely adorable they were!_DSC6080In seemingly a sea full of salmon, they swam about … probably trying to figure out which one to get first.  I wondered if they went after the females for the roe like the bears do?_DSC6400Like the bears, they were quite skilled fishermen, while those poor salmon barely had a chance.  It seemed like they were sometimes just catching them, then releasing them, and chasing down another…. just like the bears!_DSC6273_DSC6000DSC_9791Not to be outdone, the sea otters joined in on the fun._DSC6105I had to laugh how they navigated the waves of the sound, never losing grip of their fresh catch.  Now I’ve seen otters before, but never catching whole, live fish like this!_DSC6117_DSC6118There were 2 otters working together and would be very observant of the other marine life in the area doing their own hunting …_DSC6124… like this sea lion!  He was quite a bit bigger than the seals, who were quite bigger than the sea otters._DSC6181I couldn’t tell if this was mom and baby seal or two amorous seals, but they were certainly affectionate with each other … so wonderful to witness._DSC6314Salmon after salmon, they dined at a virtual smorgasbord of delicacies._DSC6356_DSC6371I was so fascinated with their big eyes and how they worked their nostrils in and out of the water.  There was also such color variations between the different seals._DSC6395However, they consistently caught their salmon and would swim near us and pose with their prize, almost as if it were presenting the fish to us.  I was truly honored to be in their presence and so grateful to watch them swim, play, hunt, and feed._DSC6332OK, so we went for the bears, but we got the seals, sea otters, and sea lions.  Sometimes, you just never know what you’re going to get, never know why you visit where and when you did, but I can tell you one thing … WE WERE THRILLED!  I think that this guy was happy too.  Doesn’t he look like he’s smiling?  🙂_DSC6450Next up:  The Denali Highway

© 2015  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

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