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Quite the adventure on Saturday, our new Coastal Exploration Hike and Extreme Tidepooling. We had great looks at elephant seals as well, quite the day! Check out our next adventure at

What do Blue Water Naturalist do on a rare weekend day off? We go exploring!  Today, we paddled Cannery Row in search of some of the longest species on earth…Blue Whales? Guess again……

No whales today but we did catch a glimpse of   earth’s longest species, the gelationous siphonophore, some species reaching 150 feet!   We also saw  and filmed an impressive  colonial salp, another gelationous species as well as the highly bioluminescent pyrosomes that floated in the water column with an eerie pink hue. Numerous ctenophores drifted by, light refracting  off their 8 rows of cilia and the incredible sea butterfly, a pelgaic sea snail. It was such an exciting day which included a vist by a most curious harbor seal.

Our next naturalist-led adventure is a low tide paddle among the baby sea otters and gelationous creatures of Elkhorn Slough on February 6th.  Join us   for an informative adventure at or book a private tour with us. Adventures are for life!

Sporting bright hues of yellow and a prominent black smudge on their caudal tail, the brightly colored juvenile senoritas are advertizing a service. Like many members of the wrasse family, senoritas are cleaner fish known to pick ectoparasites off of other fish species. Just like at the car wash, fish loaded with parasites will line up near a cleaning station patiently waiting their turn to have hitchhikers removed from their bodies. The tiny mouths of a young senorita are filled with an array of protruding teeth making an ideal tool to extract external parasites or even those embedded in the gills of fish.  Larger fish wishing to be cleaned may change colors; flare out their gills, positioned there heads upward or downward, all indications that they are ready to be serviced by a Senorita.  Frequent visitors to the cleaning station of the Senoritas include bat rays, garbaldis, ocean sunfishes, opaleyes and kelp basses. Cleaning stations provide an ecologically   important niche within a kelp forest community keeping fish healthier by reducing their parasitic load. As adults, Senoritas are known to graze on bryozoans and hydroids that encrust the blades of kelp.

Despite their viable service within a kelp forest community, senoritas like most fish must remain alert to predators that lurk among the blades of kelp. In addition to predation by fish and marine invertebrates, California sea lions or Brandt’s cormorants, may dive among the kelp blades in search of a slender meal, a lovely Senorita.  Like some other wrasses, senoritas have evolved a unique escape strategy.  When threatened, the slim torpedo shaped fish will dive into the sand then peer out among the rubble with only their heads exposed. As light begins to fade and the nocturnal world unfolds, senoritas will take to the sandy bottom again, tucking themselves in among the grains. Buried within the sandy bottom, they will avoid nighttime predators and wait for the arrival of light signaling their safe return to an established cleaning arena.


In my 24 years of leading kayaking trips into the Elkhorn Slough, I have never seen the magnitude of sea jellies that I have witnessed over the last few days. These epic events occur during a “perfect storm”, a combination of conditions including temperature, currents, nutrients and prey availability. Like many jellies, the sea nettles Chrysaora fuscescens, lay dormant in a polyp stage (like a tiny sea anemone) until ideal conditions are met. When such environmental conditions occur, these tiny flattened polyps stacked on top of each other like dinner plates, are released in mass as the floating medusa form of its life cycle.

IMG_4505With the recent full moon cycle generating high tides, the sea nettles as drifters were pushed into Moss Landing Harbor and into the Elkhorn Slough. While sea nettles can pulsate to move through the still water, they are considered zooplankton, an animal that drifts with currents. As the pigmentation is diminished, 4 whitish clumps are revealed through the bell of the sea nettles. These clumps are the reproductive organs, gonads that will release egg and sperm into the water column. Afterwards the adult medusa stage then dies.

There is always something incredible to experience as we explore the Elkhorn Slough from the quiet perspective of a sea kayak. Hope you will join us at

My mind keeps wandering back to a mere 30 second whale encoutner that leaves me with a sense of profound gratitude and wonder.

We dipped into what seemed like a deep blue silence. Hovering at the surface, we were greeted by the erie song of a humpback whale in the vast South Pacific Ocean surrounding Tonga. If you are near a singing whale, the sound comes from within as it pulsates through your fluid watery body. The tones literally flows through you and you can feel it reverberating through your core. Some people describe a sensation deep in their chest or felt through their bones.

The lone male humpback whale had just dove and was singing below us. Then suddenly, the whale appeared perhaps 100 feet from us. With a mulititude of directions to choose from, the singer swam slowly towards us and continued to sing. However, he seemed to turn down the volume as he glided just a few feet by us, as if to protect us from the deafening sound of his melodious song.

Only the male humpback whales sing an elaborate song and primarily during the breeding and calving season. While much is still unknown, its thought that air is pumped through sacs attached to the larynx region and then reverberates out through their massive throat. It is truly one of the greatest concerts on earth which was shared among an intrepid crew with!

IMG_4024Over a 34 year career of teaching coral reef ecology to groups, Tonga 2019 will be remembered as a truly  unforgettable underwater exploration.

Each day, we observed new reef  behaviors as well as a  kaleidoscope of colors exploding below us.

I was thrilled to offer dawn snorkels before our full day whale swims. As the  sun set across the South Pacific, we then snorkeled again as the crepuscular  feeders began to emerge. Thrilling!

While our  whales encounters were again so profound, I was absolutely rejuvenated by the beauty of Tonga’s coral reefs and the curious discoveries of my group. They were truly keen observers.

Please join us below the water at


As I reflect upon our recent expediton to the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga, I am grateful for not only the whales and reefs but for the rich cultural interfacing that has become such an intrigal part of our program. We danced, visited schools and a weaver’s  home. We drank Kava and shared our songs as well as enjoyed the songs of the  local  people. We  shared our personal insights each night as we felt embraced by the beautiful people of Tonga.

Cn3DBQ4OT5SF9QR6iBI7ig_thumb_feba The Tongans  takes great pride in their Polyneisan heritage and this is expressed daily through their language, dress, food and culture. The whales and coral reefs are marvelous, but our Tongan friends remain  close to our hearts. We are so grateful for the deep connections we are making. IMG_4235

Thanks to all of our wonderful hosts~Matafonua Lodge (Ha’apai), The Hideaway (Eua Island),  Mala Island Resort (Vava’u),  Kiko’s Whale Swims (Eua island) The crew of the Ashlee G and Llena (Vava’u).

Happy World Oceans Day!

We are grateful for such incredible ocean creatures as the Whale Shark and the opportunity to educate our clients about them through in water encounters. Throughout the world, some fisherman are hanging up their gill nets and turning to ecotoursim as an alternative. When properly managed, these shifts save millions of pounds of by catch yearly, turles, ceteceans, fish and benthic invertebrates that would otherwise die in horrible destructive gill nets.

Our women’s trip to swim among these giants in November, hotel based still has some availability as does our February “Glamping Adventure”. We’ve added an opportunity to swim among the whale sharks in February making it truly the ultimate Baja adventure from baby gray whale encounters to giant whale sharks! Check it out at:

SNORKELING WITH WHALE SHARKS: Entering the water next to a shark which may exceed 30 feet in length is truly an unforgettable encounter!
30 footers are barely mature while adult pregant females may reach a length of 60 feet with a massive gerth, just imagine such an encounter!

As filter feeders, whale sharks are considered harmless to snorkelers who respect these majestic sea creatures. Sometimes whale sharks are feeding leisurely at the surface while other times they are gliding effortlessly at a high speed. Excellent viewing can be made from our support boat; always a Bluie Water Ad-Venture!


We have some really exciting trips coming up locally and international for women.  To review and register for all  local trips, please visit our  ONLINE CALENDAR

Belize Adventure for Women: Rain Forest, Reefs, Caves and Ruins

December 23rd: Extreme Tidepooling and Seafood Forage for Women More Info

February 10th: Women’s Valentine’s Day Kayak, Beach Walk, Sunset and Warm Soup   More Info(Half Moon Bay area) with special interpretaton regarding the love life of sea creatures in honor of Valentine’s Day!

March 16th: Private Whales and Wildlife Charter for Women Aboard Sanctuary Cruises More Info

March 17th: Baby Seals and Babt Sea Otters by Kayak for Women~Elkhorn Slough  More Info

International Adventures:

Warm Water Baja Adventure for Women

Hotel Based~In Search of Whale Sharks and Baby Sea Turtles

Springs and Manatees of Florida Snorkeling Adventure for Women
An Extraordinary Wildlife Encounter for Women

January  20th-26th 2019 (Sold out)

Belize Adventure for Women: Rain Forest, Reefs, Caves and Ruins

April  3rd-14th, 2019 (3-4 spaces)

Tonga Whale Swim Reefs, Beaches and Culture

an Adventure in the South Pacific

August 3rd-17th,2019

(sold out, but join our next trip roster).

Get a group of friends or co-workers together and book a Private Trip

  For all trip details, email Kim Powell at 


Give the gift of adventure travel. Gift Certificates are available for local and international destinations.


The Octopus and the Pufferfish

During our recent expedition to Belize, we were able to observe Caribbean Reef Octopus nightly as we explored the intertidal near our water huts on the edge of Glover’s Atoll.
We watched in fascination as the octopus fished under coral rubble by elongating their arms  ladened with sensory suckers which can taste their food once captured. Their beak/mouth is positioned at the base of their 8 arms and as Erica Berg keenly observed, their mouth is in their armpits!
We noticed a small sharpnose pufferfish become momentarily trapped by a sucker then quickly released as the octopus likely detected the unfavorable catch. Puffers contain tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin which protects the puffer from predation. Bobbing to the surface, the tiny puffer inflated it’s body and wobbled away.
Our group of women were such keen observers! We learned from each other sharing our daily observations during our 12 day blue water adventure! Join a natuarlist-led adventure at!