Wildlife Kayaking

 

Karen Provazza | Director of Marketing

 

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.

—Loren Eiseley

 

Karen Provazza

I was born an ocean lover. I have always loved being in and on the water. My fondest childhood memories are of our family’s daylong adventures exploring the coast. Over 25 years ago, I bought my first kayak and I can honestly say that almost nothing brings me contentment like paddling New Hampshire’s and Maine’s coastal waters. 

Recently, I paddled Little Harbor, Berry Brook, and the Piscataqua River with a few of my naturalist coworkers from Seacoast Science Center. While I consider myself a bit of a wildlife enthusiast and have a fair amount of knowledge of our coastal inhabitants, the experience was eye-opening! Their keen eyes and ears helped me observe and identify dozens of species in the water, on land, and flying overhead during our relaxed-paced paddle. 

We launched at the Odiorne Point State Park boat launch and headed under the bridge and up Berry Brook. As with all coastal paddling, it is important to plan your trip around the tides. As we made our way toward the Brackett Road underpass, we spotted common terns, gulls, a red-tailed hawk and a turkey vulture flying overhead. We paused to watch cormorants dry their wings on the banks and peered into the water, spotting mummichogs and crabs.  

Willett | Photo by Ron Watson

In the brook, we observed a willett hunting for fish and a sandpiper keeping watch. A large den in the mud walls left us wondering if it were made by a mink or otter, but then we spotted the likely culprit on the peat: a muskrat! 

We paddled back around to Frost Point beach where along the way, crabs, hermit crabs, snails, and beautiful algae are plentiful. We stopped to stretch our legs and reflected on the rich natural and social history of the area, enjoying the view of Portsmouth Harbor and the Gulf of Maine. 

From there, we headed under the bridge by the Wentworth Marina, being sure to pass around slack tide, up the Piscataqua River. The clear, almost tropical-colored waters around New Castle’s Leach’s Island and rocky outcroppings are simply breathtaking. Wildlife highlights included a snowy egret, salps, a small lion’s mane jellyfish, and a mature bald eagle!

I’ve paddled these routes numerous times, but exploring them with my naturalist cohorts was an amazing experience. With heightened awareness and knowledge gained, I cannot wait to get on the water again. Who knows what other coastal magic I will discover!

Bald Eagle | Photo by Ron Watson

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish | Photo by Ron Watson

Snowy Egret | Photo by Ron Watson

 

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