Today we began our third week based in a nice little RV campground which offers an excellent deal for the month of May along with a nice bay view and all the conveniences of home here, or in Tillamook six miles away. We chose to stop for a while to let spring overtake us, to allow some of the snow to melt at Crater Lake and Mount Rainier, and just because it’s fun to get to know an area in more depth than is possible in just a few days. An oyster farm is but a couple of miles away and scenic Oregon state parks on the Pacific are five or so miles to the east and to the west. The tides here are huge, running a nine foot difference from high to low. This makes for great clamming, and the five rivers that spill into Netarts Bay create first rate conditions for crabbing and oysters. Shellfish licenses are pricey as are boat and equipment rentals; we will not try clamming or crabbing. Instead we have and will visit a fine fish market 12 miles up the road or frequent our oyster purveyor.
The big tides bring major changes to the bay in water depth and current patterns. On our arrival date the tide was up and all we saw was water and a pretty sunset. The following morning it was so different: low tide brought out rocks and sandbars. The currents must be powerful – the number and location of rocks changed with each tide, sometimes more rocks and other times less.
On Day 4 I briefly spotted something large swimming parallel to the nearest sandbar. It resembled a porpoise, but only roiled the surface twice, then vanished. On Day 5 Kat imagined she had seen a rock move, but I could detect no motion. On Day 6 the rocks were everywhere. Kat took several pictures, and with photo editing software we enlarged them five times, then ten. At 5X enlargement skid marks became visible; odd, because a current powerful enough to move 500 pound rocks should redistribute the sand erasing those skid marks.
At 10X we noticed that in the clearest pictures those rocks appeared to have faces – eyes, nose, and maybe mouths. And then a rock crawled out of the water, a little at a time, leaving a track and coming to rest on the beach, then another, and another. Binoculars told the story: those aren’t rocks; they are living creatures, harbor seals and sea lions. Most of them get enough to eat with the sandbars submerged, and then they use the bars to rest and conserve energy (cold air steals body heat at a much slower rate than cold water). Days later we realized that the chorus of bird cries we clearly heard at low tides – despite few or no visible birds – was seals barking and growling.
Kat and I felt pretty stupid, but our mistake was made the same way as earlier mankind’s belief in a flat earth, and more recently, the ideology of climate change deniers. People believe what they see, and nobody enjoys accepting facts that differ from one’s perception of reality.
Groucho Marx noted this phenomena 80 years ago in Duck Soup, “Who are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” Sometimes the eyes just don’t have it.