Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sea Lion Fin-basking

Sea Lion Thermoregulating, Mission Bay. What does thermoregulation have to do with holding a fin up in the air anyhow? Apparently, Sea Lions have a lot of capilaries close to the surface in their flippers (not intuitive by any means). To heat themselves, they will hold their flipper out in the sun. To cool themselves, they will dip the flipper in the water and then put it back up in the air for evaporative cooling. Pretty nifty huh?

We decided to go kayaking on Mission bay to celebrate an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day. I, of course, decided that this would allow me to get a little closer to the birds and other sea critters I enjoy photographing from shore. I used my little hand-held pocket digital camera and a case to avoid worrying about it getting wet. Unfortunately, compared to my trusty Nikon, the pocket digital camera pictures are decidedly grainy and not the best in low light. A few came out, particularly if I didn't use the digital zoom but I deleted a lot of them. The above sea lion was perhaps 5-10 feet away and not real worried about my kayak drifting up on him. Of course, one flick of the tail and he would have been far away again so there was no reason for him to have been worried. Dare I bring my Nikon next time? We shall see...

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