It was a beautiful warm day in Bar Harbor, Maine and I was finally getting to go sea kayaking. Sea kayaking has been on my bucket list for a long time, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until a few weeks ago when I visited Acadia National Park with my husband and son.
We went with a small group and were told we might see porpoises or harbor seals. In the two-seater kayak, I sat up front and my husband sat in the back, where he handled the steering. We paddled around an island and watched a bald eagle circle its large nest. Not far away, an enormous cruise ship was anchored offshore. We were tiny specs bobbing on the water by comparison. I scanned the undulating surface of the water all around us, back and forth, watching for any movement. But there wasn’t anything. Where were all the porpoises and seals?
“If they don’t want to be found, they won’t be,” our guide told us.
The wind picked up and the bow of the kayak slapped against each tiny wave, spraying drops of sea water onto my sunglasses. I kept trying to wipe them off with my shirt sleeve but they got sprayed again. My view of the beauty around me was now pock-marked. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to see well enough to make out a harbor seal or porpoise if one ever appeared.
After about an hour, The guide blew a horn to tell us to turn around and head back towards the shore. We had to work hard since we were now headed into the wind. I was beginning to feel the creep of disappointment at not seeing any sea life when suddenly our guide stopped paddling and pointed. There, about 20 feet to our right was the shiny speckled head of a harbor seal, eyes blinking, whiskers and eyebrows twitching. I quickly wiped down my glasses before staring in awe at this beautiful, whimsical creature who stared right back at us. We shared that magnificent moment for about 10 seconds and then he disappeared under the water.
On the way back to shore I couldn’t stop smiling. There’s nothing like being that close to such a beautiful creature that makes you feel a keen sense of gratitude for being alive, for being just as alive as the harbor seal, on the same planet, in and on the same ocean.