Tag Archive: nature tours


Prehensile Manatees!

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So many incredible and memorable moments during our Springs and Manatee adventure. On our final day, our group was mesmerized watching the prehensile lips and fleshy region of a manatee known as the oral disc.

Slowing down the video, you can see the stiff thick bristles edging either side of the mouth that actually help grab vegetation moving it towards the mouth. To my knowledge, no other mammal uses stiff whiskers in a prehensile manner.

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-2-31-20-pmHighly sensitive, these thick whiskers as well as the 3000 tactile hairs that cover their tough hide aid manatees as they explore a murky world.

 

 

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Last night our bioluminescence paddle was so incredible that we added more dates for September! Water was glowing and sparkling with each stroke of the kayak blade…erie, cool and memorable with marine mammals coming in close for a better look at us! Join us at http://www.bluewaterventures.org!

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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Thanksgiving Paddle

I am thankful for the amazing gifts of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Humpback whales are still around as well as all the other wonders of the bay. Yesterday, we saw a young male elephant seal “bottling”, a resting position at the surface (not pictured).

DSC00908At first glance from a distance the pointy proboscis had the appearance of a dorsal fin and not that of a cetacean. As we approached, we could then hear the “dorsal fin” breathing and realized it was a pinniped. Elephant Seal sightings from our kayaks are rare but the whales these days are not!

As we left the harbor, we saw the scarred nose of a recently mated female otter as well as great views of buffleheads…what a day!DSC00885

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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.

ADSC00723Once again, “pinheads” what the local fisherman call immature anchovies, have moved close into the Bay attracting an array of predators from brown pelicans to humpback whales.

 

DSC00739We thought that perhaps the whales were on their way to the coast of Mainland Mexico where they will give birth and care for their calves before making the journey back to our coast to feed. With these tasty anchovies still around, so are the whales. Enjoy the frenzy while it lasts! http://www.bluewaterventures.org.DSC00709

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DSC00660Monterey Bay is making national if not international news once again. An array of wildlife from seabirds to humpback whales are feasting on anchovies which are densely packed into our near shore waters. Try a day trip out to Moss Landing State Beach and watch this incredible show from the jetties. Better yet, join Sanctuary Cruises Whale Watching based in Moss Landing where the “action” currently is. Its impossible to predict where an 80,000 pound marine mammal may choose to feed on a given day, but the crew aboard Sanctuary WILL find the whales.

Last night after reviewing the current marine conditions, I kayaked out and tucked up alongside Sanctuary Cruises to observe an incredible display of behavior. I would not recommend this for inexperienced paddlers. The whales may change direction and approach your vessel. Sometimes they are curious and gain a better perspective of their surroundings by “spyhopping” or raising their head out of the water for a better look. When kayaking, be prepared to deal with surf launching/landing, tides, currents, wind and swell. Moss Landing is notorious for fog banks to roll in abruptly. The best show is from land or aboard Sanctuary Cruises.

DSC00677On Nov. 1st and 2nd, Blue Water Ventures is offering a bioluminescence paddle into Elkhorn Slough, the calm wetlands adjacent to the Monterey Bay whale hot spot.Hopefully, the whales will still be around and we will observe from land before paddling into the glowing water. For details go to: http://www.bluewaterventures.org.

The Best of Baja

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Every february Blue Water Ventures travels to the whale breeding lagoons of Baja and the Sea of Cortez teaming up with our incredible local outfitter, Mar Y Aventuras. For 10 action packed days, we snorkel with sea lions, observe reef fish, sea kayak, beachcomb and hope for a ‘friendly” encounter with the California gray whales of Magdalena Bay.

Baja Highlights
* Kayaking through mangroves and from our secluded base camp of Espiritu Santo Island in the Sea of Cortez

* Unforgettable Encounters with Cailfornia Gray Whales, Magdalena Bay on Baja’s Pacific Coast

* Snorkeling with Sea Lions and Colorful Reef Fish in the blue waters of Baja

* Beach combing for treasures along beautiful deserted beaches

* Delicious local seafood caught and prepared by our Mexican Crew

* Skiff supported base camps with spacious tents

* Naturalist-led hikes, snorkeling excursions and whale encounters

* Sunrises and Sunsets over magnificent desert scenery

*Swimming alongside a filter feeding harmless shark that may be over 30 feet in length

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Over 25 years ago I saw my first manatee mating event. I was leading a program for the Smithsonian Institute and I will never forget it. Since then, I have snorkeled among an esterous herd, a rambunctious gathering of amorous males in pursuit of a receptive female.  Rarely have I witnessed  the  actual attempt to impregnate  the female. While female manatees reach sexual maturity at 5 years of age, male manatees are later bloomers. Typically they are sexually mature by 8 or 9 years of age though sometimes earlier. This young male who we have named Romeo certainly gave it a go but O2 or lack of it got in the way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANote in all 3 videos clips, the smaller male surfaces for air and then must start his amorous intentions over where he left off.  Females are often forced into the shallows by the advances of an esterous herd and will be mated by multiple males. We witnessed such an event in another area of the river.

Perhaps this female realized that Romeo’s  amorous  pursuit would be futile or perhaps later in the day he succeeded. Either way, it was an unforgettable and fascinating interaction to observe. We have named the female manatee Cougar…Life as we travel through the south lands with http://www.bluewaterventures.org

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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.

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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.