Sculpins Make All This Possible

I’ve been so busy with my head up in the clouds looking for Bald Eagles flying that I’d never really bothered to look down into the waters below the dock I was standing on. Leslie, who’s definitely less fixated on birds than I am, however, did take time to look into the water and then started pointing things out and asking questions I definitely couldn’t answer.

What I could do was document what we were seeing with my camera. If you looked very hard you could see sculpins

and other small fish everywhere you looked.

Then we noticed a strange, eel-like tail sticking out of a hole in the ground, obviously making a tremendous effort to go deeper into the “cave.”


Since the cave was considerably above where the low tide would go, we wondered if what ever it was would try to go back out with the tide.

We soon discovered, though, that tide or no tide that sculpins were heading further up the shore, generally stranding themselves.


As the tide receded, we saw more and more sculpins, most of which looked either dead, or about to die.


Leslie wanted to wait for the tide to go out to see if the fish would survive, so we waited for another hour or so and discovered that some of those fish that appeared dead were actually still alive and swam back into the water when the water rose.

It was clear, though, that many of them had perished. I know a lot more about salmon than I do sculpins, so I wondered if they made the ultimate sacrifice that salmon do to reproduce.

Although the eagles, herons, crows, and gulls are infinitely more photographic than these bottom fish that we used to throw back when fishing, they are obviously vital to the well-being of the Puget Sound ecosystem. Hopefully somebody is doing a better job than I have of observing them and insuring that they keep returning in large numbers so my great grandchildren will have the opportunity to view this magnificent ecosystem like I have.