Smith Cove Park is populated only occasionally with dog walkers, cruise ship aficionados, marina boaters and a few transient souls who stop there by way of a nearby bike route. I went there for the waters -- and for the salt air -- without expectation of wildlife. But, that was about to change -- one late April day.
Sea lions are being targeted for their catch of salmon at the dam. These marine mammals are often blamed for the problems which have, at their genesis, human technologies or practices: we built the dams, we destroyed wetlands, over-developed, polluted rivers, over-fished and thus depleted salmon numbers to these endangered levels.
Ethan Janson, a local windsurfer from Three Tree Point (south of Seattle) noticed that harbor seals were hauling out on a surfboard he'd tied to a buoy out in Puget Sound. He hooked up a GoPro camera, remotely, and captured this footage of a seal pup trying desperately to haul out on the slippery board.
In a pinniped world where there's no strong, visible distinction* between she and her male, I err on the side of feminist acknowledgement and call her "she." She, Phoca vitulina, with vibrissae (whiskers) so sensitive they send signals of fish to her seal brain. And she, who can plunge 300 feet and stay for a quarter hour, contracting her blood vessels and quelling her pinniped heart.