Anacortes Kayak Tours guide Lisa Moen and her customers were paddling a few weeks ago through Skyline Marina when a baby seal popped its head up from the water and made its way to the rear of Moen’s kayak.
Moen kept paddling as the seal, nicknamed Lucille, hoisted itself onto the kayak and plopped down to take a breather.
“We always preface our trips that we are here to witness and see wildlife,” Moen said. “We never want to interact with or touch anything … This little girl swam right up to us and without anyone’s permission she jumped up there and hung out.”
The seal became a semi-frequent visitor for about two weeks, said Anacortes Kayak Tours owner Erik Schorr, providing guests with the opportunity to get up close with nature.
“It’s just a thrill,” he said. “For people who don’t have much opportunity to connect with the natural world, it doesn’t get much better than a charismatic animal coming up to you.”
The encounters with Lucille started with the seal pup following kayak guides. The seal eventually got the idea to climb aboard, and did so with several groups.
Lucille was likely looking for a place to rest, Schorr said, because seal pups will rest on the backs of their mothers. The behavior is somewhat common, Schorr said, as seal pups are often more curious than adult seals. He said this is the third summer in a row that a seal pup has boarded a guide’s kayak.
The marina is a good place for seals to live because fishermen often dump leftover bait in the water, Schorr said. There’s also an abundance of food sources living around the dock pilings.
The free rides did not last, however. The last time Lucille approached one of their kayaks, Moen and her customers started paddling faster and Lucille quickly gave up. If Lucille does try again, staff will clap their hands or splash water toward her.
“We will let her know it’s time to move on,” Schorr said. “We just want to be observers of the natural world and not imposers. We never went to where (Lucille) was. She always came to us … There was not much we could do to stop her.”