Tag Archive: field trips


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Winter is truly an outstanding time to kayak among the seals and sea otters of Elkhorn Slough. Blue Water Ventures offers naturalist-led adventures through out the year. California schools join us regularly in for a highly educational field trip to Elkhorn Slough.

Elkhorn Slough it is simply the best spot for viewing wildlife. There are easily 20-30 otters in the harbor as we launch our stable sea kayaks. There is fabulous viewing very close to where we launch so great for 5th grade classes or older.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our Elkhorn Slough curriculum typically includes: wetlands ecology, endangered species, natural history of sea otters, harbor seals, sea birds. Etc and cultural history. Leadership and teamwork are key components of your field trip.

After lunch, we will pull a large seine net which students LOVE! We love their enthusiasm…doesn’t matter what we catch! They will want to keep trying!

We offer a leisurely paced, f ull day in Elkhorn Slough (9:30-2:00) for only $38 per person with a complimentary trip for one teacher.

if parents are driving, they often join us which can be helpful. Parent chaperones also pay the student rate of $38. We feel we offer something really unique as most other outfitters just spend time on the water.

Hope you will join us!

Kim Powell, MRPA
Owner, Operator & Naturalist
Blue Water Ventures
phone & fax: 831-459-8548
http://www.bluewaterventures.org
email: bluewaterventuressc@gmail.com
127 Mason St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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Every where you turn, we are seeing mother and pup sea otters as we paddle Moss Landing Harbor and into Elkhorn Slough. It’s such an amazing time to be on the water despite the afternoon winds. We have full moon slough tours coming up as well a bioluminescence paddles. Private family and friends tours as well. Check out our schedule at http://www.bluewaterventures.org
This video was filmed from a dock….please be sure to view our furry sea otter friends from a respectable distance especially during pupping season. It’s a real treat right now! Enjoy!

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Our group of Mt Modonna Students were thrilled to learn about the California Sea Hare during our kayaking field trip to Elkhorn Slough. Sea hares, a large marine slug can emit a midly toxic purple dye as a defense. Slow moving grazers, they are simultaneous hermaphrodites and are sometimes found in large mating masses known as daisy chains or roman circles

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We also found the gelantious Ctenphore or comb jelly which empowers sicky cells rather than  stinging cells like the true sea jellies (cnidarians) employ. IMG_0692

Mt Modonna’s Pal program matches a senior as a role model with a 3rd grader during adventures throughout the school year. Super cool and highly effective concept.

Teachers, join us on a naturalist-led field trip with bluewaterventures.org. We love our outdoor classroom!

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What a stellar day we had viewing the Elephant Seals of Ano Nuevo and tidepooling at Davenport Landing! A great group of women from Betty’s List teamed up with Blue Water Ventures for an incredible day.

IMG_0656Mature female elephant seals and juvenilles are returning to the beaches of Ano Nuevo for a catastrophic molt, where patches of both skin and hair flake off their bodies. A shiny new gray coat is revealed.

 

 

 

Juvenille males are around testing their battling skills in the shallows and a few weaned pups or “weaners” remain on the beaches.

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April is truly an outstanding time to hike Ano Nuevo, teachers please join us with your students!

Our day ended with a juvenille gray whale breaching just past the surfers at Davenport Landing.

Check out our next naturalist-led adventure with http://www.bluewaterventures.org!

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Teachers, friends and team builders… Blue Water Ventures offers Extreme Tidepooling along the Central California Coast. The most interesting find yesterday was a pseudoconch, an internal structure of a sea butterfly, Corolla spectabillis. As the name implies this gelatinous pelagic snail can swim rapidly through water to escape predators. Know your tides and never turn your back on the big blue. Come explore, discover and learn with http://www.bluewaterventures.org

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Flocks of White Pelicans stole the show today on our Kirby to the Coast kayaking exploration of Elkhorn Slough. Conditions were ideal as an ebb tide carried us effortlessly to the coast winding through an intricate maze of tidal creeks. Unlike the Western Brown Pelicans which are plunge divers, White Pelicans feed by scooping fish with their bIlls.

 

aDSC00843They are known to work cooperatively together herding fish using their large bodies to form a net. Concentrating the fish within a “net of birds”, they then take turns scooping up a meal. With a wing span of nine feet, they are an impressive sight. Join us as we paddle throughout the winter in Elkhorn Slough and beyond at http://www.bluewaterventures.org.

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

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Harbor Seal pupping season is in full swing at Elkhorn Slough and at other locations along the Central California Coast.
When observing harbor seals, please keep your distance and use a telephoto lens. Make every effort to avoid separating moms from pups and never disturb a pup that is alone onshore. The mother harbor seal may be close by and will hopefully reunite with the pup once humans depart the area.

 

DSC01956_2This young pup was actively making a distress cry to locate its mother sounding something like Maaaaaa. Vocalization and scent are two key mechanisms that a mother harbor seal uses to locate her pup. Born at around 15 to 25 pounds, harbor seal pups will enjoy a rich diet of milk that is 40% fat and will weigh approximately 50 pounds as its prepared to be weaned. After 6 weeks the pups are weaned and will now forage and avoide predators on their own.

While in-utero, harbor seal pups, have a white soft coat that is typically shed before birth. In Arctic regions, the lanugo (white coat) is shed after birth. The spotted coloration provides camouflage while resting along our rocky shores.

To learn more about how we can avoid disturbing harbor seals during pupping season please check out: http://marine.stanford.edu/seals/index.htm

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Imagine a jellied filled sac, a simple life form that saw the Dinosaurs come and go, flourishing on earth for over 300 million years. You have no brain nor heart or even a proper anus. You have just consumed the soft juicy tissues of a California mussel, dislodged from the grasps of its stringy cementing agent by a powerful wave. The calcareous mussel shell pops out of your mouth that serves as both the beginning and end of your digestive tract.

Sea anemones, though a mere bundle of jelly, are formidable predators. They are armored with 1000’s of stinging cells known as nematocyst that capture their prey. The aggregating anemone pictured here can produce sexually through the dispersal of egg and sperm or asexually by cloning. Essentially, they pull themselves apart creating a genetic clone over and over again until they blanket their rocky condo. Specialized warrior polyps on the edges of the colony inflate with powerful nematocyst cells that will attack neighboring colonies. In some cases a neutral zone between colonies will be established where each colony is spared the lethal reach of the other.