Kayaking around Stonehurst

3 08 2010

It’s kayaking season here again and we have had a couple of short trips out from Back Harbour and Stonehurst.

Last week we paddled around Heckman’s Island – that is a first for us.

The great thing about kayaking is that you see buildings and places that you would never see from the land – like these docks, houses and boat sheds.

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These look like 3 little holiday cabins.

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Stonehurst has lots of natural, safe harbours.

This is a dock that we have walked to. It is a lovely spot, well away from the road and right on the edge of Tanner’s Pass.

I like this guest house, built on the rocks.

These barnacles look so clean!

There were seals out at the Rackets – where we saw them last year.

There are just so many herons around. Every cove has several, fishing.

We spotted this bald eagle.

I have marked out our route on Google Maps and it is almost 20kms.

http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=h&msa=0&msid=111336547359512933588.00048cd81324c6b5c6542&ll=44.370159,-64.233541&spn=0.016627,0.045447&z=15

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Heckman’s Island to The Rackets and Sacrifice Island

26 05 2009

Today was another lovely calm day so we decided to try the kayaking around Blue Rocks. A couple of miles from the house and we were unloading the kayak into the water at the cranberry farm on Heckman’s Island. The water was like the proverbial mill pond, so it was easy paddling out.

DSC04860

We headed towards the Rackets first of all to see if we could see any seals. They were popping up all around us and then diving back down.

You might be able to see the black heads on the water here.

Seals in distance

And the splash as one dives down.

Seal splash

The mothers were crying to the pups and telling them to follow them. I tried to get a video – not great, but you might be able to see something.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOZhcx0b494

We landed on Sacrifice Island and I bent to help Jeff lift the kayak up the beach, only to do something to my back and be left standing in agony with pain going from the base of my back down both legs. I couldn’t move and didn’t know how I was going to get back to the mainland. My mobile phone was working so I thought we could always call the air ambulance.

I managed another little video, but now I have found out how to take them and put them on you tube, I’ll be able to treat you to some more of our adventures.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gnj2uOcV2IY

I eventually managed to get myself seated on the kayak and Jeff found the paracetamol in the First Aid bag. I managed my picnic and then with a bit of trouble got back on my feet.

This is a view from Sacrifice Island. You can see why it is such a great area to kayak with all the little islands and rocky ledges.

DSC04880

We heard a strange noise and found this little seal pup lying sucking on a boulder. Jeff took this photo of it.

Seal pup1

I managed to get myself back into the kayak and Jeff paddled all the way home himself. we had a great view of an osprey as we landed and if I’d had the better camera could have had a photo of the nest on the top of a tall dead pine, with a bird sitting in it.

Another great trip.





The Polar Bear and New Research

9 01 2009

Canadian Carnivores

It may come as a surprise to some, but the largest Canadian Carnivore is not the four hundred pound monster sitting at the far end of your local A.&W./Arby’s/Macdonalds scarfing his way through a stack of burgers. Indeed the title of  ‘largest’, is reserved to a an even more fearsome predator – the polar bear. The largest polar bear recorded weighed five times the burger guy and was almost twice his height.

polar-bear

Fortunately, the vast majority of Canadian citizens live in close proximity to the American border, far from the Arctic tundra and the attentions of this animal, who although spending brief times on land, is essentially a sea bear. Like most bears it is quite willing to accept opportunistic food in the form of dead carcasses of seals, walruses and whales, but its principal prey is the ringed seal.  This it hunts with the aid of a hyper sensitive nose that can detect a seal up to a mile away, even if it lies under three feet of snow and ice. In summer the bears are driven onto the land by the melting sea ice and largely fast until the sea freezes again. Then it returns to travel the pack ice and the ice flows in search of seal blowholes hoping to ambush a meal. They are solitary animals, with the males forming a hierarchy according to size and aggressiveness that results in many a young adult losing a successful kill to an older bear.

The exception to the life of lonely wandering is the first two or so years when the cubs are essentially helpless and travel wherever their mother leads them until they are fully weaned. Like other carnivores, the early months involve much play as a means of instilling the necessary hunting skills for later life.

3-lazy-polar-bears

But sea temperatures are rising and as a result malnutrition is becoming a serious threat to certain polar bear populations. Their whole world is highly dependent on water in both its liquid and frozen forms. Although able to swim faster than it can run the bears can still not hope to catch seals or other marine life underwater. Their swimming skills are just not highly enough evolved. It is only when the sea freezes and the seals must create breathing holes that the scales become tipped in their favour.

Despite living in a world of water the polar bear has a real problem with hydration. Their is no fresh water to drink, the brutal cold ensures that it can exist only in the frozen form. There is snow, but again it is an impossibility to sustain a huge body by eating snow. So the bear has adapted and obtains almost all the moisture it requires from its prey. For many years this lead researchers to prognosticate that polar bear physiology was so attuned to its environment that unlike its brown bear cousins [ who are well known to” shit in the woods”] it simply did not defecate. So great was the need for water to sustain its enormous body that the polar bear could not afford to excrete any moisture at all.

It may be hard for the layman to fully comprehend the frisson of excitement that is currently pulsing through the scientific community. Remarkable photographs taken by an intrepid Canadian have shown that the marine bear does indeed void solids from its body. Reproduced below is one of these photographs showing a considerable evacuation. Note not only the number but the sheer size in relation to that of the body of the polar bear, which is in fact a fully grown male estimated at some fourteen hundred pounds.

See this amazing photo by clicking on the ‘Read More’ below.

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