Swimming with Cormorants and Pelicans

PelicanBayCaboHi there. How are you? I’m fine down here in Baja, swimming around with the cormorants and pelicans. We’re all getting along just fine. The picture is a view from our hotel, showing you what we call Pelican Bay, although it probably has another name, or maybe no name at all. Click for a closeup.

The water is about bathtub temperature, and I just couldn’t resist jumping in with a snorkel this morning to check out what all the seabirds were busy chasing. The pelicans were circling overhead and diving in from above. Meanwhile, the cormorants were buzzing around like underwater bees, zipping to and fro and popping up out of the wave wash for a breather.

So I got a snorkel and mask and got into it with them. There are about a zillion types of fishes, some colored pretty like aquarium show-offs, others sleek and speedy. The most numerous, though, are schools of mini fish. They’re some sort of anchovy or minnow–tiny, little, bite-sized fishies. And everybody here seems to want some. And nobody’s shy.

I was checking out the mini fish when a dive-bombing pelican plunked its head right in front of my mask. It grabbed a gulletful of minnows and floated there so close I could have touched it, filtering the water and sand out of its pouch and keeping the goodies.

I swam in another direction with a shoal of minnows moving before me. Along came three cormorants, scuppering around underwater with their webbed feet kicking and their necks S-curved to strike. And strike they did, grabbing and gobbling the bite-sized guys right in front of me. The cormorants here aren’t shy. One swam right in front of my mask and looked me in the eye. I think he was thinking, “C’mon, ya big, slow-moving hulk. Stir up some more yum yums.”

The view from homeI did my best, and then sloshed out and went back to our rooms. By the way, here’s the view from our deck. Not bad, huh?

No wonder I’ve been getting nowhere fast on my revision of Dinosaur Wars 2. Ah, well. There’s always mañana.

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes Peyton McKean mystery stories and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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