Lifejacketed-up and sitting safely on our little pontoon boat, our captain slowly took us out of Moss Landing's harbour. We spotted some wildlife before we had even left.
Menacing pelicans watched us leave our berth.
We then passed huge doggy piles of sea lions that had taken up residence on docks.
It didn't look all that comfortable...
Leaving the harbour, we sailed under a bridge and entered the Elkhorn Slough (pronounced slew) - a preserved estuary for over 700 species, protecting everything from mammals to birds to fish to algae.
We quickly spotted cute harbour seals on the shoreline.
They swim up when the tide is high so they don't have to drag themselves up there own their own, and enjoy lazing about with their tails sticking out of the water out of the water!
We were also very fortunate to see sea otters. Prior to 1911, they were almost hunted to extinction on the west coast for their pelts. All surviving Californian sea otters are descended from a small group of 50 found off of Big Sur.
The Elkhorn Slough is full of clams, urchins and other tasty things for them to eat, so the population is recovering but they are still strongly affected by pollution and disease.
Next up was a trip to Point Lobos State Reserve! A gorgeous protected marine area.
We walked a coastal path that took us through eucalyptus and cypress trees.
Our last excursion of the day was a stop at Monterey State Beach. The beach stretches around the entire Monterey Bay.
The weather and light was utterly beautiful and made photography a real treat.
A gorgeous end to an action packed day!
Labels: Beach, California, Elkhorn Slough, Monterey, Monterey State Beach, Moss Landing, North America, Otter, Point Lobos State Reserve, Safari, Sea Lion, Seal, Study Abroad, USA, Wildlife