During our naturalist-led kayaking trips in Elkhorn Slough, we discuss what lives both above and below this rich ecological wetland area. The eelgrass beds are expanding due to an interplay among three Slough species.
A fascinating relationship has developed among the Taylor sea hare, their crab predator and the charismatic coastal marine mammal, the southern sea otter, Enhydra lutris nereis. During the early 1980’s, Elkhorn Slough and its associated eelgrass beds experienced a recruitment of the southern sea otter. As the otter’s range expanded into the slough, the population of Phyllaplisai taylori expanded correspondingly since otters started keeping a check on several crab species, which prey on the slug.
Not only did Phyllaplisai taylori expand in numbers but also they tended to live longer and grow larger with fewer pressures from crab predation.
As the slugs flourished in the Elkhorn Slough, the eelgrass beds became notably healthier. The slugs grazed upon many of the encrusting algae forms that would otherwise compete with eelgrass for sunlight. Acting as a nursery arena for a variety of marine fauna, healthy beds of Zostera marina is a highly desirable trend.
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During certain times of the year, we observe a high density of certain sea jellies such as the Red Eye Sea Jelly caught on video here.
Join our next naturalist-led adventure with
Kim Powell, MRPA
Owner, Operator & Naturalist
Blue Water Ventures
phone & fax: (831) 459 8548
127 Mason St, Santa Cruz CA 95060
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Strange Otter Behavior
Over the last 20 years of kayaking in Elkhorn Slough, I’ve witnessed an amazing array of species and behaviors. The theme of our tours could be “weird otter behaviors”. They are a constant source of entertainment and intrigue. On Saturday, I observed a female sea otter holding a young harbor seal on her chest. Apparently, she had been “holding” or “holding captive” this young seal for several days.
Perhaps this female lost her otter pup and she chose to adopt another pup, just happened to be a pup of another species. No one will ever know but they are amazing animals to share the Slough with!
Join Blue Water Ventures every summer as we explore the sea caves, rock gardens and rivers of the Mendocino Coast. Our next program is designed especially for families, summer 2014.
Using Sit-On-Top kayaks, we’ll paddle into caves, rock archways and over kelp beds as we look for local residents such as harbor seals and river otters.
First time kayakers with a sense of adventure welcomed!
Join us! You will not regret it!
Our Bioluminescence paddle last night in Elkhorn Slough was super cool! The water glowed with dinoflagellates, a single cell bioluminescent protist, a grouping of species that may have some animal as well as plant like characteristics. Some dinoflagellates are responsible for red tide as seen in the video below while others such as zooxanthellae feed their coral host through photosynthesis.
Our next Bioluminescence Paddle is September 28th. Join us! Details at our blue water ventures website atwww.bluewaterventures.org
Hope to Glow with you!
Kim Powell, MRPA
Owner, Operator &Naturalist
Blue Water Ventures
phone & fax: 831-459-8548
There are those teachable moments be it in a traditional classroom or in an outdoor setting, that both student and teacher will never forget. On the final day of Coastal Kayak Explorer’s Camp we shared one of those moments.
Each summer Blue Water Ventures based in Santa Cruz, CA offers a variety of marine science camps. Kim Powell, owner of Blue Water Ventures leads our summer camps. Kim has been conducting wilderness expeditions for students since 1985. She is a certified sea kayaking instructor through the American Canoe Association and Wilderness First Responder. Kim loves sharing her knowledge of the marine world through a fun and informative approach. She has been the Director of Marine Science Camps in several Caribbean locations in addition to Central California.
Here we go down under in Search of Sea Creatures.
Elkhorn Slough offers an incredible location to kayak among sea otters, harbor seals sea lions and an array of migratory birds. We encourage teachers to get your students on a naturalist-led field trip to Elkhorn Slough.
We offer a unique program that includes activities both in the water and on land to reinforce our outdoor curriculum. Most outfitters only spend a few hours on the water. We feel we offer something special.
Our Elkhorn Slough program includes: wetlands ecology, endangered species, natural history of sea otters, harbor seals, sea birds and cultural history. Leadership and teamwork are key components of your field trip.
After lunch, we pull a large seine net to examine our catch and discuss the theme of animal adaptations further.
We offer a leisurely paced, full day in Elkhorn Slough from 9:30-2:00 for only $38 per person. This includes time on the beach for lunch and activities.
Contact Kim Powell,Owner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 831 459 8548
We paddled offshore late afternoon and discovered several humpback whales. So invigorating and intoxicating, surreal. Such encounters are raw, makes you feel truly alive in the presence of such beauty. Conditions were safe but challenging with lots of sea spray so no photos tonight. We did get a good look at a Mola Mola, our planet’s most hefty bony fish weighing in at 5000 pounds and 14 feet across. They start off as tiny larva floating among millions of other microscopic life forms. Their rate of growth is phenomenal … imagine a tadpole transforming into a 120,000 pound bull frog–thats relative to how much a Mola will grow during its life time! Molas have an affinity to sea jellies and are related to pufferfish.
We’ve also had extraordinary viewing of sea otters this fall down in Elkhorn Slough. Plenty of space on our scheduled kayaking trips December through January 2013. Teachers, you still have ample time to get your students on a naturalist-led field trip to kayak among our seals and sea otters of the Slough.
In 1988, I was traveling through southern Belize and visited the remote Mopan Mayan village of San Antonio. It was there that I was mistaken for a Duende, a forest dweller, trickster and dwarf. Duende lives deep in the jungle. He is thought to slumber in a forest cave and emerge during daylight hours to sheepishly observe humans. Two legged kinds be weary if the trickster appears near the sacred Ceiba tree. Perched among the buttressing roots, Duende may strum his guitar for you, an intoxicating ploy. It is highly recommended to respectively wave your four fingers but hide your thumb. Duende may wish to acquire your opposing appendages as he is missing his own. The forest dweller often wears a wide brimmed hat and stands a mere three feet tall which accounts for my mistaken identity.
Encouraged by the peace corp volunteer, my traveling companions Korinn Saker, Patty Smith and I threw together a skit for the Mayan Community. We chose a childhood favorite of mine that I fondly remember as “Little Nemo”. Concealed by a sheet, Korinn wrapped her arms around my waist becoming my arms, my arms were my legs and my head sported a wide brimmed hat. Voila, a tiny little creature had emerged on stage and sloppily performed such antics as brushing one’s teeth.
Korinn, unable to see my face kept missing the teeth and polishing the brow, an act which I alone found hilarious. After having my brows polished and my composure retrieved, I glanced out at the audience expecting cries for an encore. Instead, I was met by a solemn crowd. There was not a smile, snicker or unpolished eyebrow raised in an exclamation point among the 100 or so brows in the audience. I felt like shrinking, but that was part of the problem so I quickly took a bow and retreated behind the makeshift curtain. Tucked away in our hammocks that night, we were told by our host family that Little Nemo was thought to be a Duende. Ah…..it all made sense now as I instinctively checked in with my thumbs!
Kim Powell is owner, operator and head naturalist at Blue Water Ventures in Santa Cruz, CA. Offering naturalist-led field trips for students and adventurous vacations designed to be relaxing with an educational component for women. Kim has been organizing single and multiple day excursions to extraordinarily beautiful places since 1985
Sincerely, Kim of Blue Water Ventures