Mystery Animal on the Beach!

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Hi Everyone!

I was fortunate to spend last Sunday with a terrific group of trackers. We spent the morning tracking on a beach in Northern California.


1-Beach1I.jpg



I often equate animal tracking with detective work. There is a mystery to solve, whether it is a set of tracks, scat, or even a bloody body.

This morning we had several smaller mysteries and one whopper!

I was so excited! When you see tracks you have never seen before, you know that you are about to learn something new. What do you make of these?


7-Seal3a.jpg



They start higher on the beach at a flat spot with a peculiar crescent-shaped indentation. They go downhill, into the surf and disappear! There are no tracks leading out of the water. The trail width narrows as the tracks approach the surf.


8-Seal3.jpg



The tracks looked fresh to my untrained eye. And there are claw marks in them!


9-Seal2a.jpg



It was great fun looking at the tracks. But we had to be on guard. The high tide was returning and several of the trackers were nearly soaked by waves.


It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.
– James Thurber

What creature made these tracks? What was it doing on the beach? How long was it there? Why are there no tracks leading out of the water? What does it mean that the trail width narrows?

I am interested to hear what everyone thinks. However, if you make a suggestion you need to explain your reasoning so everyone can follow along.

If you want to cheat, I have placed my thoughts (here) along with more pictures of the mystery tracks. But that doesn’t mean my answers are correct! :)

There is enough information in this thread to formulate several theories about the animal, its behavior, and how long it was on the beach. I am interested to hear what you think. Oh, and feel free to ask additional questions.

Regards,

- Woodsorrel
 

Fraxinus

Settler
Oct 26, 2008
935
31
Canterbury
I'm going to say a turtle who wiped out her up beach tracks by following the same route back. Is the area known as a turtle nesting site?
Now going to follow your link and see if I made a pregnant goldfish of myself:D

Rob.
 
I'm going to say a turtle who wiped out her up beach tracks by following the same route back. Is the area known as a turtle nesting site?
Now going to follow your link and see if I made a pregnant goldfish of myself:D

Rob.

Rob, it is not a turtle nesting site. While it is not unheard of to see Green sea turtles, it is very rare. Coincidentally, a Green sea turtle was spotted on another beach the day before.

- Woodsorrel
 

Retired Member southey

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jun 4, 2006
11,098
13
your house!
Seal. I've seen seal tracks a lot while living near the Moray firth. The tracks thin as the seal speeds up towards getting into the water. They dont look big/wide apart so something like a grey or harbour maybe? But the spacing between each set looks to be an adult to me.
 
Seal. I've seen seal tracks a lot while living near the Moray firth. The tracks thin as the seal speeds up towards getting into the water. They dont look big/wide apart so something like a grey or harbour maybe? But the spacing between each set looks to be an adult to me.

southey, good for you bringing your experience to bear! Trail width, the space across the animal's body between left and right tracks, tends to decrease as speed increases. Like us when we walk and run. The spacing between tracks increases as well, as you observed.

I'll put this out there, why did we see only one set of tracks?

- Woodsorrel
 
Is it a release site?

southey, this is a great question! It is not a release site of any kind. The only tracks we found nearby were Raven tracks. The Raven tracks were at the flat spot on the beach with the crescent shaped depression. Why would Ravens be walking around the animal? Does that say anything about the length of time it was there?

- Woodsorrel
 
Last edited:
... Came ashore at high tide but didn't leave until the tide was out?

Z

I like your reasoning, Zingmo! This would account for why we see only one set of tracks (going toward the water).

There is information in the OP that can be combined with this assumption and the presence of the Ravens to estimate how long the animal might have been on the beach. Minutes? hours? many hours?

- Woodsorrel
 

Tengu

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
11,498
811
48
Wiltshire
I think it was a seal or sea lion too, I have seen them make slidy trails and they do have long claws
 

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