Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tranquillity

Akaroa Harbor, NZ (May 28, 2008)


We spent the afternoon is absolute calm, walking on the shore of the calm harbor, reading the street posts with french names, sitting by the sea and watching the anchored boats and the far hills losing their shape in the mist on the opposite side of the harbor. The most peaceful sight.

The same pier
Maybe it was indeed an abnormally high tide, rather than an abnormally low pier. This is the same pier that before our boat trip was partially submerged, with a heron happily walking on the line between wet and dry. Upon our return it was perfectly dry, as if it was never touched by the swell. As the sun was getting low (and the sun was setting quite early while we were there, given that it was the beginning of winter), the harbor was getting a golden tint. After a day of fishing, the cormorant in the photo below was spreading its wing, while the lazy seagulls were taking a nap. Apparently cormorants are among the few sea birds that don’t have impermeable wings, and need to dry by spreading them in the sun. We saw several cormorants in this position during the day. It seems that the permeability of their feathers allows them to sink faster when they are fishing, because it avoids air bubbles from being trapped in their wet plumage. Some cormorants can dive as much as 45 meters deep. When I was a kid I remember reading about cormorant fishing in the adventure books of Emilio Salgari (author of Sandokan, the Black Corsair and other exotic heroes). Cormorant fishing has been done for 1,300 years along the Nagara river in China (but also in Japan and Macedonia) by tying a snare at the base of the bird’s neck. As the bird dives to catch a fish, the snare prevents it from swallowing, and the fish is recovered by the bird’s owner when the cormorant returns to the boat. Emilio Salgari was writing of these fantastic tales of pirates and adventurers from the apartment in Torino (the city where I was born), he never left, inspired only by looking at postcards of the exotic locations where he set his fantastic tales.


Akaroa Harbor, NZ (May 28, 2008)

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