Seal Nookie (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Sat, 16 Jul 2005

Seal Nookie

Dave and I spent the morning swapping processors. He's letting me use his old P3 Tualatin to replace the Sempron based system I bought.

The Sempron was what I came up with after I had no luck finding a working motherboard to replace the one that died on my beloved old (quiet and cool) Tualatin machine. The machine always ran too hot. At least, everyone seemed shocked when I mentioned that it typically ran at 59-62°C with the case open and an extra fan blowing onto the chip, and more like 75°C with the case closed (so I've been running it with the case permanently open, which means it's a lot noiser).

That's the second time I've gotten burned by AMD. They make fast chips, but I don't care about speed: I care about cool and quiet operation for the machine I run day in and day out. Intel's no better, as long as a P4 is all you can buy for a desktop machine. The Via C3 line seems to be the only option until Intel finishes their promised switch to desktop processors based off the Centrino line. (I hope when those finally arrive, they're available in a version without DRM.)

After the machine swap was finished, the day had heated up, we headed over the hill to my favorite beach, Bean Hollow, to check out the tidepools and tafoni and harbor seals.

The tidepools had a decent selection of crabs up to about 3 inches as well as goggles of small hermit crabs (mostly in shells of some sort of purple snail).

Apparently it's harbor seal mating season. At least, we guessed that's what they were doing, though they might have just been playing in groups of two, with much flipper-splashing and nuzzling, and crowds of other seals gathered around to watch. There was also a lot of loud, rude sounding snorting from solo seals swimming nearby.

The seals' coats are very colorful, much more so than in spring when they're raising pups. The rocks were covered with seals sporting black-spotted white, white-spotted black, yellow, orange, and red. Quite a change from their spring colors of dark silver to black. One web reference I found said they molt after the pups are weaned, so perhaps these colors represent their fresh coats, which gradually turn duller as they age.

The bright colors are much more photogenic, too. They stand out from the rocks, especially the white youngster who obligingly ran through a gamut of cute poses for me, relaxing, looking alert, scratching, yawning, rolling over, and finally some seal yoga: I didn't know such seemingly ungainly animals could scratch their heads with their back flippers!

Tags:
[ 23:15 Jul 16, 2005    More nature | permalink to this entry ]