California Seal Surfing Wave

I am in northern California, playing. Hiking and biking in the Redwoods, enjoying stunning, dry, late September weather along the seashore. This part of the western seaboard, southern Oregon to northern California is relative difficult to get to. And difficult to travel in. One must pick up the coastal highway (HWY 101) at Coos Bay in Oregon or in Eureka, California.  Two cities separated by 218 miles of curvy, hilly, coast hugging road originally built by the CCC in the ‘30’s. Much of this road is two lane and speed is limited to 45 or 55 mph. So you must make a real effort to get to this region, however, once you do; one is delighted with the sweeping vistas, panoramic views down the coastline filled with bays, historic lighthouses, soaring firs atop 300 foot basaltic cliffs, crashing waves, miles of beaches and of course the Redwoods.

Seal Riding Wave in Northern California

This land invites one to play, to climb among tide pools or wander the shore in search of sand dollars which is exactly what I was doing when I looked up to find an adult seal who suddenly popped his head up about 15 feet from shore. I watch as the seal swan out to where the surf was starting to build and to my sheer amazement, the seal flipped back and surfed the crest of the wave, slipping under water as the curl disappeared into the shore. Again, a head arises and again gliding to the “sweet spot” to pick up another wave. I watched for at least 15 minutes for never in my life had I seen a seal surf.

Seal Riding Wave in Northern California

Several years ago, while in Ft. Meyers Florida I was walking the beach. There was an offshore front creating large, 15-foot waves that were pounding the coast. I watched in astonishment as four Dolphins, like synchronized swimmers, surfed toward the shore. There harmony was a beautiful as they lined up across the crest of a wave and rode the curl toward shore, the setting sun glinted off their backs, each dorsal fin generating it’s own wake as they cut through the water, each mammal peeling off at the last second to avoid being washed ashore.

Play, the essence of our existence, a part of a balanced life and apparently a part of dolphin’s and seal’s life as well. As I watched the seal ride wave after wave I realized that I was smiling ear to ear, his joy was infectious. My only regret was that I did not have my surfboard with me for I would have loved to join this seal and ride a few waves with him.

Jeri Rutherford Northern California

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