Tag Archive: Monterey Bay


aScreen Shot 2017-07-01 at 8.37.26 PM

http://www.bluewaterventures.org

The Mola Mola Ocean Sunfish

Imagine an irregularly shaped disk with exaggerated fins, bulging eyes and a tiny mouth below a bulbous flat head flopping around at the surface of Monterey Bay and you have discovered the ocean sunfish, Mola mola!  As you approach this mystical creature, it suddenly dives out of sight undulating its dorsal and ventral fins as it disappear into the depths. The Mola mola is the heaviest   bony fish known to exist in the ocean realm.   It sustains itself on a diet of gelatinous creatures such as the egg yolk sea jelly among other planktonic jellies found in Monterey Bay. Beginning life as a tiny minuscule drifting egg, an ocean sunfish will begin to grow increasing its size by over 50 million times until it reaches the size of a minivan. To put this into perspective, imagine a fully-grown marine toad, Bufo marinus weighing over 120,000 pounds that began its journey though life as a tiny tadpole, weighing less than a gram. Mola mola are acknowledged in the Guinness Book of World Records as producing the largest number of eggs of any fish ever recorded. A single female ocean sunfish held 300 million eggs. The ocean sunfish thrives in temperate and tropical oceans including the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea and on rare occasions, the Bering Sea. While their preferred habitat is open ocean, they may sometimes wander into kelp forests and deep coral reefs.

Natural History Notes

Its is intriguing to note that adult ocean sunfish lack a swim bladder, the organ in fishes that gives them the ability to control their buoyancy.  Ichthyologist once assumed that ocean sunfish traveled at the whim of prevailing currents drifting along with other planktonic forms of life. However, studies have revealed that the Mola mola can reach speeds of over 3 kilometers per hour and cover over 25 kilometers per day. While often appearing lethargic and slow moving near the surface, they are quite capable of speed and swimming to depth.aaScreen Shot 2017-07-01 at 8.42.11 PM

 

However, since ocean sunfish are often drifting at a pelagic snail’s pace, they are subject to a high degree of parasitism. Seeking slow moving creatures such as sea turtles basking in the sun, whales in breeding lagoons and meandering ocean sunfishes, a variety of parasites will climb aboard for an easily obtained and predictable meal.

 

Another interesting story can be woven between Mola mola and Bufo marinus, the lethargic marine toads of Tropical America. Oozing from the paratoid glands of these impressively large toads is a milky substance which contains bufotoxin, a strong neurotoxin. The ocean sunfish is classified among the Tetraodontiformes, an order of marine fish which contain a powerful neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin. Unlike their cousin the pufferfish, ocean sunfish probably lack the deadly toxin.  However, the toxins derived from both the marine toad and the Mola’s cousin, a Caribbean pufferfish have been used in the Haitian traditional practice of zombism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

 

http://www.bluewaterventures.otg

Our Blue Water adventures are planned according to the tides, not a bad way to live at all! The recent extreme high and low tides, rain or shine have offered some true adventures along our California Coast.

Our week of King tides promoted by the alignment of the earth moon and sun offers so many opporunties to see our coast in a new perspective…get out there and look around or join us at http://www.bliewaterventures.org.

Our tours are all naturalist-led and highly informative.

http://www.bluewaterventures.org

Blue Water Ventures offers customized naturalist-led field trips in California, Central America and the Caribbean. As environmental educators, we believe in hands on learning experiences using the outdoors as our classroom.

When teachers call to inquire about field trips, I speak with them personally to discuss curriculum and the particular themes they would like covered during a program.

Many Bay Area area schools choose the calm protected water of Elkhorn Slough for a day of sea kayaking. Harbor seals, sea otters, cormorants and pelicans are easily observed from the quiet perspective of a kayak. For fifth graders and above, no previous kayaking experience is necessary.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our Elkhorn Slough curriculum 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, students are introduced to several sampling techniques including a large seine net to pull and plankton tow with field microscopes to use.

We offer a leisurely paced, full day in Elkhorn Slough (9:30-2:00) for only $38 per person with a complimentary trip for teachers. Closer to San Francisco and the is Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay where a similar curriculum can be offered for $48 per person.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As a professional educator with over 30 years in the field with students, I am committed to providing quality outdoor programs. I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you regarding potential field trips for your students.
Kim Powell, MRPA
Owner, Operator & Naturalist
Blue Water Ventures
phone & fax: (831) 459 8548
email: bluewaterventuressc@gmail.com
website: http://www.bluewaterventures.org
127 Mason St, Santa Cruz CA 95060

follow us on Facebook! or our Nature News Blog Site

 

follow us on Facebook! or our Nature News Blog Site

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!

http://www.bluewaterventures.org

IMG_0701

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

.IMG_0677

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!

Orcas of Monterey Bay

http://www.bluewaterventures.org

Orcas of Monterey Bay…..Finally after many years of searching, we found Orcas! 32 women on our private Blue Water Ventures charter with Sanctuary Cruises got to witness an unbelievable show! Several pods of Orcas, also known as killer whales had converged together south of Moss Landing.

Thanks to the amazing crew at http://www.sanctuarycruises based in Moss Landing. Join our next adventure in search of sea otter pups and baby gray whales next weekend at http://www.bluewaterventures.org!

http://www.bluewaterventures.org

http://www.bluewaterventures.org
bDSC02517What an extraordinary day on the Bay! The whale activity continues to be awesome and I would recommend a camera with a good zoom! Keep adjusting your position and be alert to changes both in weather and whales. Paddling in the fog is treacherous and motorboats can’t see you. Viewing wildlife from from our beaches is excellent now or paddle with an expeirenced partner or guide.
It’s busy out there and not for inexperienced boaters. In fact, in the last 3 weeks we’ve heard reports of paddlers getting into trouble, hoping to get out to the whales. The supermoon brought extreme tidal changes with a dangerous ebb flow out the harbor mouth where boaters dumped and were flushed out to sea.

DSC02515The humpbacks are diving to feed at depth as well as lunge feeding at the surface. Using their plates of baleen that hangs from the upper jaw, they filter out their prey of choice, currently anchovies.
The cliffs above Mitchel’s Cove, West Cliff of Santa Cruz still has regular visits by ” Mitch” a humpback whale who will lunge feed in 10 feet of water, 30 feet from shore! People are lining up on shore for the best view ever and its free!

DSC01857

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What a spectacular day on the water with the humpback whales and marine wonders of the Monterey Bay. Bait fish have moved in close to our coast again creating a feeding frenzy among sea birds, sea lions, dolphins and whales. Humpbacks, which are capable of switching their diet from krill to bait fish thrive in such conditions where as other baleen whales such as Blues are restricted to krill blooms.

Check out http://www.bluewaterventures.org for our next whales and wildlife adventure by kayak, bioluminescence night paddles, Florida

manatees, Baja whales and more! DSC01865

Blue Water guides Kim Powell and Nikki Doyle ended our 2014 Elkhorn Slough programs with an incredible opportunity to observe a mother sea otter and her pup. Sea otters spend part of their day grooming, maintaining a clean and healthy fur.

560220_871548582889436_8191899317797331968_n-1Looks like this young pup got a lesson from mom in the art of rolling, trapping a layer of air at the base of the fur. Just like when we put on a wetsuit, the otter’s body warms up the layer of air and provides greater insulation. Join us as we explore Elkhorn Slough by Kayak…details at http://www.bluewaterventures.org