Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sea Otters and moving mountains

Hi All,

Yesterday, we camped by Morro Bay, CA.  This quickly became one of our favorite stops.  It smelled wonderful, there was a beautiful bay full of wildlife.  We got the dogs and went for a walk by the coast.

Soon, with my amazing ability as a wildlife photographer, many years of experience, prohibitively expensive camera equipment, large bazooka-like camera lens, and with much waiting and stealthy wildlife photography secrets, I was able to snap this picture of a sea lion as it swam by the snack bar.

He stopped just short of getting out, going inside, and placing an order for fish and chips.

Meanwhile, out in the bay California Sea Otters were feeding.  Here two otters feed.  Sea otters are an endangered species.  They have the densest fur of any mammal, and were hunted to near extinction for furs.  Scientists estimate there are now less than 3,000 of them living off the coast of California.  The population in the bay are all descendants of a group of fifty that was found surviving near Big Sur in 1938.  

About a quarter of pups survive to adulthood.  The dense fur requires regular attention and grooming, and fluffing to keep it in shape to insulate the otters from the cold.

They feed in a peculiar way.  They swim to the bottom, up to 250 feet,, bring up shellfish, urchins, fish and the like, and crack the shells open by hitting them with a rock.  We could hear the cracking as the otters floated on their backs in the water, lay the shells on their stomachs, and then pounded them with rocks.  This seagull seemed to want to take their food.

This fishing boat came along, scared the otters under, and we went on our way.

Here is another cool thing: The Mountain you see below is 578 ft Morro rock, one of seven or so old volcanic plugs formed 23 - 25 million years ago that occur in a line from Morro Bay to San Louis Obispo. Here the Pacific plate (moving northwest) and the North American plate (moving southwest) meet. Morro rock, on the Pacific plate, moves about 2'' per year, which apparently is the speed with which your fingernails grow.

This is the view from 661 ft Black Hill towards some of the other morros.

1 comment:

  1. Just northwest of where my family moved to (Santa Maria) in 1971. Beautiful country.