A Raft of Sea Otters

A Raft of Sea Otters

This photo was taken while on the Elkhorn Slough Nature Tour Boat Ride. This boat ride is on a pontoon boat and departs from the marina at Moss Landing and heads up river into the slough. As an aside, Moss Landing is where the better whale watching tours also leave. Why are they better? You can catch a whale watching cruise there or Monterey or Santa Cruz. Moss Landing is halfway between the other two launch points, which are about twenty miles apart, on either end of Monterey Bay. The whales like to hang out off of Moss Landing, because even though it doesn’t look like much of a river, Elkhorn Slough serves as the headwaters for the huge underwater canyon that runs through the center of Monterey Bay. It is this canyon and its abundance of deep sea life that attracts the whales. Now you can leave from Monterey or Santa Cruz, but you’ll spend half of your two hour tour just going and coming from Moss Landing. Wouldn’t you rather spend all of that time looking at whales?

Anyway, we’ve kind of graduated from whale watching tours. I’ve always seen whales on any of the Monterey Bay tours, but only glimpses, never any of those spectacular shots that are on all of the sales brochures. On the Elkhorn Slough tour rides you can see sea otters, seals, sea lions and birds, lots of birds. Dozens of different varieties of birds. The boat takes you as close to these animals as the law allows and they are usually pretty stationary. So, the biggest photographic challenge is the bobbing of the boat. A sunny day helps a lot with that.

Point Arena Lighthouse

Point Arena Lighthouse

About a hundred miles north of San Francisco is Point Arena and its lighthouse. The current lighthouse was built after the previous one was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. Point Arena is along the same San Andreas fault as San Francisco. A keeper was on duty at the time of the quake and he reported that the lighthouse first swung twelve feet one-way and then twelve feet back the other way. The keeper survived the quake with only minor scrapes.

The reason for his survival was the steel spiral staircase that bended, but did not break during the quake. The original lighthouse had to be rebuilt, but the stairs were reusable. We toured the lighthouse and its top is now an empty room. At the time there was huge Fresnel up there that is now on display in the museum. The lens turned, because it rode on a table that was floating in a vat of mercury. All that weight at the top makes the lightkeepers survival even more amazing.

I bicycled in the park today. I was hardly quicksilver fast. I think that I was passed by about half-a-dozen other cyclists. Still, I was out there on the bike.