Monday, July 04, 2011

Bull Kelp and Jellyfish

What's the strangest thing you have ever seen in the water?

All of the strange things I have seen in the water were discovered in Alaska, on our honeymoon the day we went kayaking. This activity was not my first choice or even my last, but the dude was so enthusiastic about the trip that I sucked it up. Also, I was promised we wouldn't kayak in the ocean (just protected areas) so I wouldn't have to worry about rolling over.

So there I am in our little protected area paddling around not loving it when I notice these orange jellyfish. Orange, big as dinner plates, jellyfish. Like this:
Lion's Mane Jellyfish, photo by Eaglestein
Now I am loving the kayaking trip even less. If I roll, I will not only dip into the cold waters of the north Pacific, there will be jellyfish that will cause me to scream while I am underwater and, inevitably, drown. So I keep a very close eye on the orange jellyfish making sure that none of them leap into the kayak. And that's when the seaweed surfaces, as big around as my wrist. It comes up to the surface like some kind of snake needing air and dives back under the water. (Oh, you think it's inanimate.)
bull kelp, photo by Avenue
Then I begin to regret every single Steven King novel and short story I ever set eyes upon.

After an excruciating hour, our guide calls us together; he wants to take us to this little spit of land for lunch. It's on the other side of this outcropping here. We'll just scoot out into the ocean and... I thought I had made it clear, no ocean, but I was completely overruled. I must have had the brave face on because the dude really thinks I am having fun. I nearly freak out* as we enter the ocean which is unrepentantly wavy.

Soon we are sitting on our little spit of land, with a fire built so we can roast hot dogs on a stick. Those were some awesome hot dogs, highlight of the trip. Our guide needs to go check on something for someone, and will be back in one hour. (Seriously, everyone in remote Alaska asks favors of anyone going even sort of near something. "Oh, you're going to be in that area? You'll only be 30 minutes by kayak from my hunting lodge, can you make sure that big storm we had didn't do any real damage?" And the crazy thing is, the guy going out 30 minutes by kayak from the lodge will take that hour round trip and check on the lodge. Okay, it's not's wonderfully co-dependent neighborly.)

Our explorations didn't take very long, given that our spit was about eight feet wide. We found bits of children's toys, empty bottles of booze with Japanese writing on them, and other detritus. So there you have it, all the weird shit I've seen in the water. Funny that the weirdest stuff is natural.

*Lest you think I was being tortured, it was for five minutes, tops.


Chocolates4Breakfast (TerriBoog) said...

What a great story! I don't mind the ocean, for the most part. In my mind, what I can't see, isn't there. That works until something actually nibbles on my toes (or some other body part); then, I'm done! Of course, if I can see the jelly fish, or anything else, I'm not going in, period.

Catherine said...

Isn't nature great!!

Lee said...

This only barely related, but last night my neighbor was telling me that he's taking a supplement for his memory and it's made from jellyfish.

Of course, he also retold us all the stories he had told the night before.

doris said...

I love the ocean more than I can say, but having lived inland all of my life, it scares me. Your story made me shiver ... ugh.

Alice said...

Awesome story of fortitude and compromise... or something. I am totally with you about rolling over in the ocean. Hello! There's stuff in there!