Man in the Gray Suit
Also known as the Landlord……love being home paddling among our humpback whales of Monterey Bay and a few more elusive species.
Rebecca and I paddled out about 3 miles from Moss Landing Harbor. Beautiful sea conditions, ideal for whale and wildlife sightings. We were hopeful and eventually in awe when 1/2 dozen humpback whales were sighted.
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Smelling a slight stench, we noticed a massive slick of dead anchovies which stirred up a feeding frenzy of birds and a few overly anxious sea lions…..off in the distance several humpback whales surfaced.
Glancing back towards the fish slick, a large dark dorsal fin approximately 2-3 feet high suddenly emerged among the fish goo. My thoughts instantly raced through a series of possibilities. Within seconds I realized we were kayaking with a truly impressive apex predator, a great white shark!
Bill Pullen who was with us confirmed my thoughts and said, “Yeah, that’s a big one” based on his recent sightings of juvenile white sharks while surfing around Santa Cruz county. How Big is Big? Large female white sharks may exceed 20 feet in length which would dwarf our tandem kayak but who knows….we just saw the impressive dorsal fin.
I have paddled Monterey Bay for over 20 years and today was my first good look at the stealthy predator, the Landlord of the Sea! Love the wonders of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Join us on a naturalist-led adventure at http://www.bluewaterventures.org. Our next whales and wildlife paddle leaving from Moss Landing is October 1st.
A budding shark enthusiast, a mere 10 years of age and part of my Marine Science Camp excitedly shared a memorable factoid with me a few years ago. “Ya know Kim, you are more likely to die from a toilet seat whirling through the air than a shark”.
I suppose this fact may be true if you reside in Kansas but not if you kayak the open coast of Central California from Davenport to Santa Cruz. Today we set off on such an adventure, part of a staff enrichment paddle with Blue Water Ventures. Armed with a marine radio, compass, extra fleece and a cell phone, 3 of my seasoned guides and a Blue Water fan set off on a 15 mile paddle along the rugged California Coast.
The coastal scenery was spectacular. Sea caves, arches and rocky pour overs dotted the coastline. Paddling a mile or so offshore we admired the scenery from a far keeping a safe distance from a menacing surf zone. We hoped to encounter a few California Gray Whales as they make their perilous journey from the calving lagoons of Baja to their rich feeding grounds of Alaska. While several whales surfaced at close range, our real focus was to keep upright as falling seas lunged us forward and chaotic wind swell hit our kayaks broad side. We were slightly gripped, thirsty yet unquenched as we made our steady path down the coast. Four women focused and alert engulfed in blue seas.
Then a stealthy shape silently appeared slicing across the chaotic seas gliding along side us for a few seconds then disappearing. The Man in the Gray Suit, a real buzz kill, an uninvited guest and an apex predator, The great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias decided to crash our training. Our guess is that our little friend sporting the gray suit just cruised by mildly curious. Like most white shark encounters with humans, our visitor directed its attention elsewhere. An excited sea lion porpoised moments later, perhaps escaping the jaws of the shark or providing a meal.
Admittedly, there was a sigh of relief as we tucked around Seal Rock and enjoyed a relaxing observation of a sea otter mom and her pup wrapped up in kelp.