The story of the
Marbled Murrelet as our Company Logo:
During most of my life on Northern Vancouver Island, I have been aware of this seemingly erratic little bird; as I watched it zig-zag through the air on stubby wings, tips moving furiously while appearing to touch the surface of the water in a blur of motion. Sometimes alone or in small groups(six to eight) I used to watch them, and anticipate their turns as they crested each wave. They were constant companions where ever I went, either bobbing on the water after food, or skimming the surface at 60 mph while on the move.
Photo credit: Tim
The Marbled Murrelet was a natural for our logo in many ways, some being that its affinity to water and land paralleling that of kayakers; but mainly because of the fact that its way of life is immanently threatened by us humans, so our own way of life is also threatened by ourselves that we should realize that life is sharing in respect to all living creatures. Hence Odyssey Kayaking Ltd.adopted the motto "Sharing the Waves". The next time you're on the water, look for our little friend; he'll be there waiting to share with you, his world. The following is a little information found during our research of the "Marbled Murrelet": The Marbled Murrelet or Brachyramphus marmoratus in the past has largely been an unknown and uninteresting bird as compared to the Eagle. The early day loggers called them "fog larks", and that was about as far as the interest went, up until recently. The summer plumage is "marbled" in shades of dark brown. The marbled murrelet is found both in summer and winter off of the British Columbia coastal waters. Young murrelets are quite distinctive in the black and white plumage that the adults will also adopt for the winter months. White shoulder patches and a white throat distinguish the Marbled Murrelets winter garb. The wintering grounds for the bulk of the population remain a mystery. Adult murrelets are believed to live as long as 25 years because there are few natural threats in their environment. Human activities can have a serious effect on the population. The feathers are unusually thick and dense to keep out the cold. The feet are webbed like a duck's, but very small, and are used for propulsion only when the bird swims on the surface. Underwater, the feet steer the bird, and it is propelled forward by its powerful "flippers" the same stubby wings that must work so hard to keep the bird in the air. The murrelet uses mostly short dives, which last less than 30 seconds. Often, after a series of dives, it will flap its wings vigorously. This fluffs the plumage and restores the insulating effect of the feathers.
Photo credit: Tim
Marbled Murrelets come ashore only during the breeding season, to lay and incubate the egg and to feed the nestling. They nest on the mainland and islands in almost total obscurity, but they fly up to 50 miles inland to lay eggs on mossy depressions in the branches of old-growth trees. Nesting begins in May when the female lays a single large egg. For about one month, each adult takes daylong turns at incubation. The adults use off-duty days to fatten up on fish and get ready for the next shift on the nest. The first eggs hatch in June, and the life of the parent birds becomes hectic. Every night for about a month, each parent carries a meal to the nest. They fly up to 60 miles an hour to the forest at dawn and dusk, and disappears in the tall trees. Young murrelets begin to appear in coastal waters at the end of June but are not numerous until late July. The meals usually consist of a single fish about 15 cm long that the murrelet can carry crosswise in its bill. Slightly larger fish are carried with the head down the bird's throat and the tail protruding from its mouth. Catching fish takes up most of the murrelets' time. Most often the birds dive well below the surface and swallow fish underwater. Sometimes a murrelet will drive a dense school of fish to the surface and keep it there as long as possible with shallow dives. During the shallow dives, the murrelet will pick off and eat individuals one at a time. The swarms of small fish boiling at the surface will attract other murrelets and gulls eager for easy pickings.
The next time you are out on the water, and a marbled murrelet pops up right beside you; don't be startled. Just contemplate for a bit on how blessed we are to still be able to share the environment with this little wonder, and draw your own parallel between the marbled murrelet and the kayaker.