This week’s photo, taken May 8, 2015 from Cape Flattery, WA, features a NORTHERN SEA OTTER, also known as a tangled mass of fur, as it engages in a stare down contest with me.
Recently, I returned to Neah Bay and the northwesternmost corner of the contiguous United States. As a former hang glider pilot, I was flying vicariously while watching the steady stream of raptors (including several BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, a rare species here on the west coast), as they circled high above Bahokas Peak, trying to gain as much altitude as possible before continuing their northerly migration across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into Canada.
The next morning, from Cape Flattery, I counted at least 30 TUFTED PUFFINS bobbing far off shore in the waters near Tatoosh Island.
The hawks were inspiring, and the puffins were cute, but my finest moment of nature occurred at Cape Flattery, when I noticed a SEA OTTER floating on its back while cruising by in the strong ocean current. The hyperactive otter was keeping busy as it drifted by. It used its front paws to scrub the back of its head for a few moments, then it worked its core with some serious belly-rubbing. A big believer in cross training, the otter then alternated back and forth with head and belly scratching. All the time, this highly entertaining critter behaved quite human-like.
Then it began to perform forward somersaults, over and over again; that is, until it noticed me! The gymnastics came to a screeching halt, as the otter devoted its attention to staring up at the human that was staring down at the otter. I held the otter’s interest for about 20 seconds. Then it resumed its floating-on-the-back position and continued to go with the flow of the current, not bothering to look my way again.