Closing the Purse

Aki and I pushed through heavy rain to this headland. I came for a chance to see whales or sea lions. The little dog is here out of loyalty. We are both soaked. Just off shore, the purse seiner Challenger is its net on a school of chum salmon. 

            The mechanical noise of the fishing boat makes it impossible to hear bird song or even eagle screams. It might have driven feeding humpback whales to divert to quieter waters. We won’t see whales or sea lions today. One harbor seal will cruise along the edge of the seine net as it closes on protentional prey.

            The Challenger has a contract with the hatchery to recover chum salmon that started their lives in net pens and have spent the last two years in the North Pacific. Their eggs and milt will be used to start a new generation of chums. Because of adverse ocean conditions, fewer and fewer salmon are returning to the hatchery. For the same reason, the number of wild chums to reach their home streams is way down. 

            After watching the Challenger finish its set, now cold as well as wet, we head back into the forest as the power skiff of another seine boat begins to stretch out its net.  

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