Friday, May 20, 2011

Does Anybody Eat This Stuff?

A question asked of Beach Naturalists:   "Does anybody eat this stuff?"  Referring to the various marine invertebrates found on our beaches that are not on your local seafood restaurant menu.  Clams, mussels,
scallops, oysters, seaweed, snails, octopus, squid, crab, shrimp, all favorites of many seafood lovers.  But what about sea slugs, moon snails, worms, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, urchins, sand dollars, sea stars, chitons, etc.?  My knowledge is limited on this subject, but I know somebody somewhere likely eats all this stuff; sea stars in China.  A beach goer asked me if I knew what the Native Americans might have eaten....and luckily I did have an old reference for him....well not exactly..more like First Nation tribe on Vancouver Island, B.C.
The reference is, "Teachings of the Tides,  David Ellis and Luke Swan, Theytus Books Limited, Namimo, B.C. Canada 1981.  Sadly the book, to my knowledge, is out of print but is available through Amazon used a price.
This 181 page paperback is a collection of the recollections of Luke Swan of the Manhousat (Maan'u7is7ath) tribe, Flores Island on the west side of Vancouver Island.  Luke Swan was born in 1893 and passed on the information to David Ellis.  The book covers native names of various marine invertebrates, collecting methods, cooking methods for each animal as well as native names for certain parts of the animals.  Ever wonder what a "p'a7am" was....or why it was considered a "dirty word" by the natives?  Well you will find out in this lots of other cool stuff;  like did you know eating "humam" would make you stupid.  At least I have an excuse.
I value my copy, purchased 30 years ago at a much better price than you will find a used one...  :)

Spring River Otter Activity

Juvenile River Otters Constellation Park
Catching a fleeting view of a River Otter in Puget Sound or fresh water habitat can be a real treat.  Over the past few weeks I've been lucky to see more River Otter activity than I've seen in the last 30 years.  From adult river otters mating at Lincoln Park to 2 juveniles fishing and eating at Constellation Park Marine Reserve.
River Otters are cousins of Sea Otters, Mink, Skunks, Weasels....that lot.  In fact I've seen more Mink in Puget Sound than River Otters over the years. 
While a few Sea Otters do on rare occasion wander into Puget Sound, they are animals of the outer coast.  River Otters are common both in the Sound and rivers, lakes...anywhere there is water and food...mainly fish.  I've never seen River Otters eating anything but flounder in Puget Sound, and if it was identifiable it was Starry Flounder.  River Otters are legally hunted, trapped in Washington State, while Sea Otters are totally protected.
Mating River Otters

Mating River Otters

Mating Pair River Otters

Juvenile River Otters Constellation Park

River Otters den, often in Seattle Green Belts, while Sea Otters do not use dens.  River Otters are born in litters, Sea Otters as single births.  There is lots of additional information on the Washington Fish and Wildlife website.