Thursday, August 31, 2006

Marmots, & Slugs, & Orcas.. . Oh My!

Marmots, & Orcas, & Slugs, Oh My!
  • Just got back from a trip to Washington State & Seattle! Got to do some fantastic hiking at Mt. Rainier National Park & Olympic National Park. Also went on a whale watch out of Port Townsend, Washington through the Puget Sound & to the San Juan islands. During our time hiking & boating we encountered some curious new critters. Here are a few facts I learned:
  • Marmots, (also called groundhogs or woodchucks) are the largest of the squirrel family. Marmots are kind of cute (for a rodent), and basically lie around on rocks sunning themselves & chewing vegetation all day. They make a loud, shrill whistling sound (which we did not have the pleasure of experiencing).
  • Orca whales can live to be over 90 years old! There was an orca whale born in 1910 in one of the pods we saw. Orcas are also matriarchal. Adult males will stay with their mommies, aunties, sisters, & grammies their whole life. Some orca whales (like the ones in the Puget Sound) only eat fish like salmon. They do not hunt seals or sea lions.
  • Banana Slugs are found in the Hoh temperate rainforest in Olympic National Park. They are bright yellow of course. Banana slugs have a large breathing hole & delicate antennae with knobby eyes at the end. ((Aside: Over a beer at the airport a woman from Portland told me that for fun kids in Oregon & Washington lick banana slugs on a dare. Apparently banana slugs have a toxic chemical on their skin that makes your tongue numb hmmm!! ))

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