The same day that I photographed the gulls hawking the ants, there was another kind of feeding frenzy going on in Totman Cove: Welcome to the Sand Lance 'all-you-can-eat' Buffet! Sand Lances are a slim, elongated, schooling fish. Although they are eel-like in their shape and movements, they aren't a true eel. There are eighteen varieties of them found across the globe. They range from eight to eighteen inches long. The ones in these photographs were the short ones. Nonetheless, it would gross me out to be swimming with them. I have a phobia about the bottoms of bodies of water when I can't see what's down there. Just the idea that these creatures could be around my legs creeps me out severely. Give me a clear, swimming pool or at least an actual snake or spider that I can see.
Sand Lances are an important food for forty-five species of predacious fishes, some invertebrates, twelve species of marine mammals and forty species of birds. I watched seals, ospreys, cormorants, gulls, and terns feeding on them. Even an eagle showed up and lurked in the trees. It didn't try for any of the slithery little fishes, but did seem very interested in all the action. I suppose for an eagle it would be like eating a fistful of French fries, hardly worth the bother. The ospreys that were diving for them were juveniles. The fish, barely visible in the big birds' talons, were probably crushed to mush by the time they got to a perch to consume them. The eagle gave chase to an osprey; gulls and terns chased the eagle and the osprey; terns and gulls dove on the cormorants when they surfaced with the Sand Lances and God only knows what was going on below the surface. See? That's why I don't like swimming in there! Horrible horrors! A person could get mauled in the melee.
Sand Lances aren't eaten here, but I can imagine them lightly breaded, fried and eaten whole - bones and all like Smelts. Yummy! Now you're talkin'! A generous squeeze of lemon and some home-made tartar sauce, a side of Cajun curly fries and cole slaw............get the nets! I'm ready for 'em. See how easy I am? If I can relate a thing to anything with mayonnaise, I'm okay.