Elkhorn Slough Safari

Elkhorn Slough Sea Otter

This is our last day in Monterey. Tomorrow, we hit the road again. We began our day with a boat ride, a three-hour tour as they say, just me and my little buddy. She hates it when I call her that. I guess that she is just not the Gilligan’s Island fan that I am. Well, the weather did not start getting rough. In fact the water was as smooth as glass. We launched in our mighty yacht, a pontoon boat that was full to the gills with our fellow passengers. The real skipper and his naturalist “little” buddy, were our hosts. We departed the marina at Moss Landing and headed up into the slough.

Our tour actually began as soon as we shoved off from dock. Sealions were slow-motion pirouetting, with at least one fin extended out-of-the-water, a means of regulating their body temperature. Other sealions were out of the water, drooped along the docks of less fortunate boat owners. Being an up to 500 pound protected marine mammal, with sharp canines, can make it difficult to walkaround them on the narrow walks. Owners have to wrap their boats in plastic orange fencing, just to keep them off their vessels. They have been know to pile onto unfortunate’s boats and sink them under their combined weight.

The Sea Otters also first appeared in harbor, but their really big rafts were up the slough. That is also were we saw the babies. There were also harbor seals, but they were all up in the slough. Then there were the birds. Most numerous were cormorants and pelicans, but there were also grebes, terns, egrets and herons. It was so calm that the skipper ventured out into Monterey Bay, not part of the usual program. I think the threat of wake wash from one of the passing whale tour boats brought our captain back to his senses. At the end, they like to give you a tally of what you saw. Kind of validation for your tour fee. Their count included well over a hundred sealions, 85 sea otters, including nine babies, a hundred harbor seals and seventeen different species of birds.

Afterwards, while we were lunching at Phil’s fish house, we reviewed our personal count. We didn’t quibble with the individual mammal counts that was beyond us, but we couldn’t come up with seventeen types of birds. But I guess if you did this tour everyday, then maybe your eye would be sharper than mine.

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