Four gulls relax on their own floating island—a cork of dense snow that was carried from the beach by last night’s flood tide. You might say they look smug. Snow islands populate much of the bay. Some host gulls. Groups of others provide a harbor for a group of jumpy mallards.
The ducks explode off the water, fly back and forth along the beach and return to their spot before the water has had a chance to calm. Aki didn’t scare them. It’s a seal quietly swimming between the snow islands. In minutes the seal surfaces near the three gulls’ island, using an oblique angle to shorten the distance between itself and the possible prey. When the gulls stir, the seal slips beneath the surface until the birds calm down.