Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Kelp Colored Mink

The big kelp fronds laying on the beach at low tide jiggled as something underneath bounced around like a cat playing under a blanket. I watched the serpentine path of the motion, and after a minute a mink popped out with a kelp crab in it's mouth. The mink quickly chomped the skinny-legged crab down and then followed it's pointy little nose back under the kelp to find more brunch.

American Mink (Neovison vison) licking the crab snack off of it's lips and getting ready to dive under the kelp for more.

So do you know how to tell an immature mink from a mature mink?

"Wanna see my food? Look! Hahahahaha, you can't stop looking!"

Definitely an immature mink. It appears to be eating a small eel.

This mink was especially curious. It popped up in several places to see what I was.

When the tide is out the table is set for these carnivores. At low tide they dine on purple shore crab, kelp crab, blennies, small sculpin out of tidepools, and chitons that they peel off of the rocks. Mink are good at fishing, too, and will slip in and out of fresh and salt water to take fish up to about a foot long. Their toes are semi-webbed; an adaptation to their aquatic lifestyle.

In the woods these members of the weasel family eat birds, eggs, mice, insects, and pretty much anything that they can sink their claws and teeth into. They are not into veggies, though.

There were four mink on the beach this day. Two of them were staying close to each other, and the other two were loners. Mink are usually solitary animals.

They seemed to have their own territories. The mink also had a large personal space. If they approached me then fifteen feet was okay. If I approached them then their tolerance ended at about thirty feet.

In the sun their coats were a pretty red-brown. In the shade, just brown. When the light was just right the mink and the kelp were almost the same color.

Two mink came over to check out the big newcomer. This limestone beach had mink-size caves and overhangs for them to run through and hide in.

You know that incredibly luxurious, soft mink coat that you petted in the store? If it was wild mink from Alaska then it was probably wallowing in kelp goo at some point.

Individuals may be identified by white markings on the chin, chest, and belly. Getting a mink to show you those voluntarily can be tricky at times.

Happy critter encounters to you!

Alaska Beachcomber

Check out more animals and birds in the Alaskan Critters index!

There's another mink and a cute crow story HERE.