Every kayaker knows how easy it is to get close to local animals while kayaking. In areas where you do not visit daily, it is great to observe not so familiar species or even make first encounters with some.
In this summer while kayaking in Linnansaari national park on lake Saimaa in Eastern Finland, I met variety of animals. The king of the water birds, the Black-throated Diver or Arctic Loon (Gavia Arctica), kuikka in Finnish, is a familiar sight on clear waters of Saimaa. At the beginning of August, some of them were already gathering in groups, preparing for migration. For those interested more in arctic loons, check the new, magnificient book with great photos “KUIKKA alkulintu” (in Finnish) by Mauri Leivo.
Another huge bird I observed from quite close while kayaking was an osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sääksi or kalasääski in Finnish. This one had built its nest on the top of a big rock in the middle of the lake and was observing passer-bys from afar while its baby was in the nest.
While trying to avoid disturbing the osprey, 5o meters from osprey’s nest I observed first a beaver swimming by the shore and then its nest.
The highlight of these encounters still was when I saw a Saimaa Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida saimensis), saimaannorppa in Finnish, while kayaking one afternoon. I observed it for a while from my kayak. There are only under 300 individuals left, so it is among the most endagered species.
This individual carried a radiotransmitter on its back. At the local “Fish Day” at the village of Oravi, I met researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, who told that of their research and that 9 seals are “under surveillance” in the area.
This little radiotransmitter is used on baby seals.
The seal I met was an older one and was probably quite used to humans because it did not dive away but remained quite close to my kayak. I managed to get some video though I was pretty excited to spot it. Did not want to disturbe it more so I somewhat reluctantly kayaked away.