Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sunday Afternoon In The Monterey Bay

Thursday 19th June 2014

Summer is not always the best time to visit our local beaches.  It has nothing to do with crowds but because in the Summer we get a thick marine layer which can hang about all day.  We can leave our house in 90degree sunshine and get to the beach and it will be in the 50's or 60's!  Sometimes they'll be a break in the middle of the day and the sun will turn the ocean an incredible turquoise with pristine white surf.  On days like that you can see the seals inside the waves as they rear up, just before they curl and break. The beaches we like to go to are wild and natural.   On Sunday it was Father's Day and in the afternoon we drove down to Moss Landing beach which is on the Monterey Bay.  To get there you drive through miles of fields which this time of year are full of salad greens, strawberries (you can smell them as you drive) and raspberries.

Moss Landing is a wonderful place for seeing wildlife.  There is a harbor and a slough, where they used to harvest salt, which provide safe refuge from the rough sea for birds and animals. There are always interesting birds and we always see rafts of sea otters, sea lions and harbor seals.  We often see dolphins although not on this trip, and whales.  Below is a harbor seal nursery.  Pelicans raise their young here too.

This is a raft of sea otters.  It's a smaller group than we usually see but they were active, playing and feeding.  They dive down and pick up clams then lay on their backs, crack open the shells and eat!  

This otter was curled up on the beach, like a cat!

There are three snowy plovers in this picture.  Parts of the dunes are roped off to provide a safe breeding area for these endangered birds.  

We came across three of these dead sunfish.   This is the first time we have seen these on the beach.  We've seen them at the Monterey Bay Aquarium swimming slowly in the huge tank with the tuna and occasional shark.  Below is a photo from that tank at the Aquarium showing a bigger sunfish.  They are very odd looking creatures.  This link will take you to a short VIDEO on the Monterey Bay Aquarium website about the sunfish.  It was sad to see dead ones.

Because the ocean was very rough and the tide was high, there were not many shells.  My daughter is a shell collecting expert!  She has a large and ever expanding collection which she has identified and catalogued.  We are pretty strict about not bringing home shells that she already has in her collection!    

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