Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Southern Sea Otters in Monterey Bay

Southern Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) are a fixture in Monterey Bay, California.  On our whale watch last year, we saw this little whiskered fellow hanging out by a kelp forest and munching on a clam.  At first, he was floating on his back in the water with a clam on his chest and next he had cracked the clam and was eating.  They are such delightful creatures.  Although the Southern Sea Otter population is much larger than earlier in the 20th Century, they are still dying at alarming rates and struggling to survive.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium is doing a lot of research on these otters and has a wonderful exhibit of otters who are unable to be released back into the wild.

Sea Otter in Monterey Bay

Sea Otter in Monterey Bay

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Leviathans Next Door: Blue Whales in Monterey

Last August, we spent the day on a whale watch off the Monterey, California coast.  While the weather was chilly and overcast, it was a spectacular day as we saw 5 blue whales and 25 to 30 humpback whales.  Here are some shots of the largest animal ever known on earth: the Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus).  We were lucky to see two travelling together as well as a mother and her calf.  They dwarfed our boat and seemed like stealthy submarines gliding through the depths.


Blue Whale Diving with Calf Nearby
Blue Whale Diving with Calf Nearby


Blue Wale in Waters off Pebble Beach
Blue Whale off Pebble Beach
Two Blue Whales
Two Blue Whales
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Harris' Hawks in Southern Arizona

Harris' Hawks (Parabuteo unicinctus) are common in Southern Arizona including Tucson.  Unfortunately, many of these majestic birds are electrocuted every year on power lines in urban areas.  While many birds of prey are solitary, Harris' hawks live and hunt in packs led by an adult female.  Their natural predator is the Great Horned Owl.  The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has a flock of Harris' hawks that are showcased in afternoon raptor flight displays.

Harris’ Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)
Harris' Hawk on top of Saguaro Cactus

Harris’ Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)
Juvenile Harris' Hawk

Harris’ Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)
Harris' Hawk on top of Saguaro Cactus


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