Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

Axel Schoevers (Photo: A. de Krook) Name:
Axel Schoevers
Rijswijk, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Seal Launch

Today was all about launching. We started our trip to Texel and Noorderhaaks from a more-rocky-than-expected corner in the Ferry breakwater in Den Helder. Where has al the sand gone... More than one participant complains about wet feet...

It is a beautiful sunny day, albeit somewhat chilly with the Northerly force 3 wind. We have lunch in the shelter of the beach pavilion at "Paal 9" on the Island of Texel. Just when we are about to launch (again) a truck drives onto the beach and unloads two blue cases. Ecomare chose this day, time and location to launch two nursery seals back into the sea. A chance encounter for us to observe a real seal launch.
At first, the two seals were not too keen to head to the open sea. Maybe they are a bit spoiled with their 5* accommodation and feeding at the Ecomare seal and bird nursery. But with some 'encouragement' from the keepers the two seals head out to sea. The keepers explained that normally the seals are set free out at sea from aboard a vessel. But for a national newspaper journalist and photographer they made an exception. They might have to encourage these two seals off the Texel beaches again for the next days or so.
Many of the ex-nursery seals end-up at the Noorderhaaks sand spit off Texel. And that is our next destination, after we ourselves (seal) launched from the beach.
On the Noorderhaaks sand-spit I have to delicately choose between two contradicting options. Staying clear of the restricted area (set aside for the seals), or land on the spot that is not restricted, but that usually has all the resting seals. Maybe the seals themselves have taken notice of the restricted area and stay out of that... Arggg... How strong is my case when a patrol wants to fine me because I am deliberately in the restricted area to not to disturb resting seals. Maybe if the police man also is a biologist, I should be fine... Bio-Logic.

But today I have the easy choice just at the corner of the restricted area. Today the seals are resting out of the wind (and out of sight) on the south-east side of the sand-spit. While we have a short (chilly) break on Noorderhaaks more and more heads are poking out of the water; Noorderhaaks seals are checking us out. We launch again back to our put-in where the water level has covered all of the rocky beach, making it now a very easy seal landing on the breakwater, with wet feet again. But now I hear no complaints...

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