Monday, January 24, 2011

Stranded Beaver on the Beach

This past Saturday, we decided to head west towards the northern portion of the Oregon Coast, stopping to view Elk at Jewell Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary and a quick hike at Fishhawk Falls along the way, the details of which will be coming to you in a not so distant future blog post. Viewing the elk so close was definitely a highlight of the day, until I had a rare encounter with a beached beaver.

We decided to use the vehicle access point near Gearhart and drive up the beach to see what we could see, expecting nothing more than some shorebirds, a few gulls, and maybe some interesting driftwood. For those of you outside the Pacific Northwest, the past few weeks have seen some unusually heavy rans, along with the associated flooding, so just being at the ocean with the sun shining was a welcome treat, plus you never know what is going to wash ashore after a storm. We happily drove along snapping pictures of the sandpipers and just enjoying the beauty of the day.

Somewhere near Sunset Bay State Park, a gentleman in a white truck flagged us down to stop. We obliged, figuring he had a warning about some sort of danger that may lie further up the coastline.

"Look out. Right up there *pointing to a brown blob in the surf* is a beaver. He's a young guy and pretty tired. He's been there all day being battered by the waves. Wildlife rescue is on the way. Just give him some space, he's having a pretty bad day."

Brown Blob in the Surf

My husband and I both looked at each other and exclaimed "A beaver? What?" This we had to see.
Now, I am not a beaver, but I have to imagine that while I rather enjoy a day on the coast, for him, being stuck there was no day at the beach. Now, being as I have never seen a beach beaver, and I am not sure whoever wrote the Marine Mammal protection act meant it to apply to stranded beavers, we were not sure how to handle the situation. However, we respected the beaver's space, kept the same distance we would for a beached seal, and were thankful for the powerful zoom of our camera lens.

The poor little guy was just miserable. He kept trying to swim back out to sea, and back to whatever river or creek he came from, but it looked more like he was making a really bad attempt at body surfing. Then when he would take a moment to rest, a huge glob of sea foam would cover him completely, and he looked like someone took him out of the bathtub and forgot to rinse the shampoo off. We sat and watched over him for quite a while. Lots of other people stopped intermittently to gawk, and we all remarked that we had never heard of, let alone seen a beaver on the beach before.

Finally, the cavalry (Wildlife Center of the North Coast) came to the rescue!! At this point my husband jumped out of the car with the camera to get pictures of the rescue. My youngest child and I waited safely in the car. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be anywhere near an angry beaver should it decide to attack.

Luckily, the whole rescue happened without incident. They corralled him into a huge fishing type net, put him in a crate and were gone in less than 10 minutes. Really, the whole thing was pretty anitclimatic. I was expecting the beaver to put up at least a little bit of a fight, but, in all honesty, I think he was just ready for his day on the beach to come to an end and was happy to comply with anyone that offered him an escape route.

We did talk to the rescuers, and they pretty much confirmed the theory we had been bouncing around since we happened upon him. all the recent flooding had washing him out of whatever stream he had been living in, and right out to see. That must have been on hell of a ride!!

Now, to me, this is a once in a lifetime occurrence. I never expect to go to the beach and see a beaver surfing. Other than the normal sandpipers, seagulls  and starfish, maybe I might see a few other interesting birds such as terns or pelicans. If I am really fortunate, maybe a seal that has come ashore and is also in need of rescue, but never an unlucky beaver. Much to my surprise, the wildlife rescue volunteers said that this actually happens five or six times a year, especially after the rivers and creeks have been flooding.

I guess it just goes to show, you never know what you will find when you go exploring the Oregon Coast.

1 comment:

  1. Poor little beaver! It's heartening to see how many sensible human friends he had. Great story, Cari, well told. We never know what adventures we're going to have with you, but we know it will always be interesting!