Day Nine: Bald Eagle, Entangled Seal

24 January 2014 (Friday)

I awake at 0730. Kerry tells me that the small propane heater in the living room has shut off, meaning one bottle lasted just less than 1 week. I am concerned about our propane situation. I spoke with Dead River Company three times before they would give me four bottles for this project. There is a propane cylinder shortage in this region of Maine due to recent ice storms. Initially they were unwilling to give me any propane without returning bottles. But if we have any propane left on the island we cannot bring the bottles in, so it is a catch-22. I fear that when I call and ask for four more bottles they will be unwilling to let me have them. I move on to check the large propane heater. This unit is also out of propane, so we have gone through two bottles in less than one week.

I do not eat breakfast but have lunch at 10 am. Tanya goes up to the lighthouse to complete a seal count. I go up a little while later to do a tower watch looking for whales.

Picture taken from the tower during a seal count- most seals are hauled along the south side of the island today

Picture taken from the tower during a seal count- most seals are hauled along the south side of the island today

When I get up there Tanya tells me there was a bald eagle swooping around the island. I see it in the distance. A moment later it returns and tries to catch a cormorant on the south tip of the island. For some reason it gives up. Tanya takes off for a camera, when she returns the eagle has taken flight again. It moves west, then south, then out of site over the ocean. I cannot image where to – no land that way for thousands of miles.

I spend two hours on tower watch without any whale sightings. This is not a surprise this time of year but there are certain to be a few whales making their way around. We do not get too many days where the sighting conditions are good enough to conduct a tower watch, so we will be sure to take advantage when we can.

IMG_6865

We have been seeing a lot of fresh blood on the island

From the tower we also note a large patch of blood on the eastern edge of the island. It looks like potential seal birth, so we descend to get a closer look. We creep as close as possible without flushing the gray seal contingency, and get right up to the site. There is no sign of a pup or exhausted mom. We swing up to the northeast side of MDR along the seal ledges for another look, setting up shop behind the ying yang rocks. We do not see any pup but do notice a young gray seal with a line chocked around it’s neck. It looks to be a bait bag from a lobster bag. Tanya takes pictures for the stranding group at COA.

I have brought a personal Coleman camping grill out as an emergency back up stove. It has seen better days so I spend an hour cleaning it out. The ignitors still work and it lights without issue. I also check our propane lantern and, while the mantles are cracked, it also lights up just fine. Tomorrow I will build an emergency kit that will live in the lighthouse tower. If we get forecast for really big seas we will need to duck into the tower for safety and I want to be prepared.

Cormorants in flight

Cormorants in flight

As the sun goes down we lose our solar power and need to start the generator for the first time in the day. It dies 3 or 4 times before it will settle in. I assume this had to do with the cold, and I adjust the choke a lot before it will run smoothly.

Tanya collects another tote of snow to be melted into dish and shower water.

Kathy took a linguistic quiz that Tanya sent around and ended up scoring the same as Tanya – Yonkers, Newark, and Baltimore.

Kathy took her first shower and the pump failed. She implemented the pitcher method as did Tanya and now swears she will never go back.

We do a night time bucket run to the ramp as tomorrow is supposed to be rough weather.

Tanya makes a thai “buddha bowl” dish for dinner and wonder bars for dessert.

Bed by 2130.

-Chris

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