Next time you are kayaking in Elkhorn Slough take a look around the launch area. There is a vast diversity of life clinging to the docks and hiding in the mudflats. The bright orange species is a colonial tunicate. In their larval stage tunicates sport around with a primitive spinal cord which places them into phylum chordata, the same category that humans and all animals with backbones belong to. Our naturalist at www.bluewaterventures.org love to share their knowledge of what lives above and below. Be sure to fire those questions our way on your next kayaking tour with us.
Archive for February, 2014
During our yearly expedition to the Sea Of Cortez, we made an incredible discovery. A tiny, barely discernible commensal shrimp was found living among the tube feet of Bradley’s Sea Star (Mithrodia bradeyi). The sea star shrimp (Periclimenes sorer) was barely visible until we realized it was mimicing the tube feet of the sea star.
On our last groupon offering of the season, we had a great view of a rare visitor to Elkhorn Slough, the Stellar Sea Lion, Eumetopias janatus. An adult male will get your attention weighing in at 2400 pounds, three times the weight of a California Sea Lion male. They are easily distinguished by their size and golden mane of thick fur around their neck which only the males develop. They lack a sagittal crest, the distinguishing bump on the forehead that the California Sea lion males develop.
During their breeding and pupping season from late May to mid July, you may view Stellar Sea Lions on Ano Nuevo Island which marks their southern range for pupping. While numbers have diminished drastically over the last 100 years, the largest concentration of Stellars occur in the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian islands. During the late 1800’s through 1930’s, Stellar sea lions here hunted for their oil and hides. Through the 1950’s, sea lion hunts were established by commercial fisheries in an effort to reduce numbers and the impact Stellars had on commeically viable fish. When kayaking near sea lion dock in North Moss Landing Harbor, be sure to allow extra space between you and the dock when the territorial Stellar Sea lion is present.
Join us on a naturalist-led kayaking adventure in Elkhorn Slough, Monterey Bay, Baja, Belize, Tonga and beyond!
While Island Hopping in the Sea of Cortez, we encountered the largest animal on earth, the majestic blue whale. Reaching a length of over 100 feet, blues sustain themselves on a diet of krill, a tiny crustacean. Hunted to near extinction in the 1920’s, blue whales are thought to use the Sea of Cortez as a nursery area.
Baby blues are born 25 feet in length and 6000 pounds. Consuming 100-150 gallons of milk per day, calves may gain 10 pounds per hour and are weaned after 6 months.
The California coast supports the world’s largest concentration of blue whales. Monterey Bay is a summer feeding ground for the endangered blue whales.
Outstanding viewing of sea otters and their pups now in Elkhorn Slough. We offer year round naturalist-led kayaking adventures at www.bluewaterventures.org. When viewing sea otters with pups be sure to give them extra space and use a telephoto lens. Its a critical time right now as pups are nursing and learning skills needed to survive on their own. Enjoy respectively!
Each day we have new discoveries during our yearly Baja Adventure to the Sea of Cortez and Magdalena Bay. Our Baja programs are offered each year late January through February.
Today we snorkeled among 100’s of Golden Cow Nose Rays…..simply magnificent!
Capable of detecting the weak bioelectric fields of their prey such as benthic clams, these incredible cartilaginous fish are amazing to observe at such close range. Related to the majestic spotted eagle rays, the golden cownose rays have a defensive spine at the base of their tale.