Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nature Boat Trip

Yesterday I went on the nature boat tour at Elkhorn Slough with my friend Dogwood. It was wonderful! We saw lots of birds and marine mammals, and the naturalist on board taught us so much. The weather was mild and the water was calm for most of the two-hour trip.

There were tons of sea lions. Can you see the baby in the front?

We saw many brown pelicans. These birds were on the verge of extinction years back because of the pesticide DDT, which was banned in 1972. Pelicans incubate their eggs with their feet, and the DDT made the egg shells so fragile that when the pelicans stepped on the eggs they immediately crushed them.

It was good to see them in such large numbers.

The naturalist told us that all of the sea lions are males, and that the females are in Santa Barbara right now.

These are sea otters floating on their backs. They were hunted for their pelts almost to extinction in the early 1900's. Fortunately, they have made a comeback. Today they are listed as threatened by the Endangered Species Act and fully protected by California law.

Sea otters feed on clams (among other things) by placing the clam on their chest and pounding on it with a tool, usually a rock. Otters will keep their tool in a little flap near their armpit and reuse it again and again, sometimes keeping the same tool for life.

These are harbor seals sleeping on the shore. I was surprised to learn they are nocturnal and do their hunting for food at night. Harbor seals are smaller than sea lions and have holes for ears instead of ear flaps.

I believe these birds are Marbled Godwits; a group of them is called a prayer. We also saw Grebes, Terns, Sandpipers, Gulls, American Avocets, American Coots, Long-Billed Curlews, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Great Egrets.

The slough is such a gorgeous place. The naturalist told us that there was once a plan to build condos on the surrounding hills and divert the water so a freeway could go though it. Fortunately, Dave Packard of Hewlett-Packard stepped in and bought some of the land to protect it from development. The Nature Conservancy bought up the rest, and now we have this beautiful habitat that so many animals make their home.

Strong winds and cold temps arrived as we made our way back to the harbor. Dogwood and I had a hearty lunch at The Whole Enchilada and then went shopping at an antique store. I’ll show you my treasures on another day.

Have an excellent week!

Update: Check out Dogwood's great pics from our trip at her blog, Pink Dogwood Blossom!


Theresa said...

Wonderful pictures of your day! Wish I could have been there too. Can't wait to see what you bought:) Have a blessed day!

Tammy said...

Oh my goodness, thanks for sharing we would not see any of that over here ... its interesting to see what wildlife is around in other parts of the world! Those sea lion pictures amaze me!

Woollywotnots said...

Lovely photos. Looks like it was super trip. It is great when you can visit somewhere with an expert. I've done this often and you learn so much more.

noelle said...

what a lovely trip, how facinating that the otter has a little flap for his tools! hoping your little house will be with you soon, i always worry when sending abroad, it seems to take forever to get there! x x

Dogwood said...

Oh, Stacy~I just felt like I was taking our safari again! I love you post about our nature boat ride. So very descriptive. It was a wonderful day with my BFF.


5 orange potatoes said...

I loved reading and see the photos in this post. My littlest is right here on my lap admiring the animals that we don't see around here in Ohio.


Anonymous said...

Your nature boat trip looked wonderful, I love sealions, I could sit and watch them for hours, they are such happy, playful creatures. Every time we go to a sea life centre, I stay the longest watching the seals, they are wonderful creatures.

Thank you for your lovely comment Stacy, but guess what, I have made the pincho too small for me! Arghh! So instead of unravelling it, I am going to give it to my niece Carley, as my other niece, Jade, wants me to make a scarf for her the same as the one I made for Carley, so I have to give Carley something, so she does not feel left out, and she loves fashion, so I'm sure she will love the poncho.

It was so amazing feeling the really strong urge to connect with God again, I truly believe I was touched by Him. xxxx

Thimbleanna said...

Wow. Oh Wow! I'd love to take that trip. I've always wanted to see Otters in the wild. And all the rest of the animals -- icing on the cake. What a lucky girl -- thanks for sharing your pictures!!!

Rachel said...

Wow! I was just at Dogwood's blog and saw her pictures and now yours. You two had such a great day! Isn't it nice to have a best friend to take on adventures?

Five stars ***** to you both!

Kelly said...

Oh my, this is way too exciting for me! What a fantastic nature boat trip. All those sea lions and pelicans and otters. It certainly is so good to see creatures from other parts of the world. How we would love to see those sea lions in the wild like that! Such a wonderfu post. Thank you for sharing.