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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

29 May 2016

See sea otter day

Sea otter

Sea otter

1 May 2016

This morning we went kayaking on Elkhorn Slough. What is a slough, you cry? It’s a slow-moving river/estuary attached to the sea, a sheltered tidal waterway, home to plenty of wildlife. And at Elkhorn Slough you cannot fail to find yourself kayaking with sea otters! The local wildlife protection rules say you should stay 100ft away from sea mammals, but there are plenty of places on the slough where that’s essentially impossible and closer encounters are almost inevitable. That said, we tried to be good wildlife watchers. Unlike some kayakers who paddled straight in among the otters, grumble grumble.

So what are sea otters like up close? Almost too cute to bear. When they’re not busy, just lying on their backs in a raft (group of sea otters = a raft), they look like tiny floating vampires with their paws crossed on their chests. Cute, fluffy vampires. Some of them had plonked themselves down on the beach, something I’d always heard sea otters don’t do at all, but these guys are just that chilled out. They’re also not much more graceful on land than a seal! We saw quite a few

Clam smashin time

Clam smashin time

mothers with pups, for an added dose of cuteness. A lot of the pups seemed to be carrying around pieces of green kelp, and you’d swear they were comfort blankets for when mum goes diving in search of food and leaves the little’un alone on the surface. Oh, and we even got to see some of the classic bash-a-clam-open-on-their-chest behaviour, though the mother we saw doing this was so expert with her flat stone that it tended to be two whacks before the clam was open and edible.

We loved our morning of otter watching, although the breeze picked up on our way back which made the whole kayak maneuvering business a bit more like hard work. Afterwards we pootled around back in Monterey picking our new hotel, and ended up splashing out on a sea view room right down in Cannery Row. This was great; almost any time you look out of the window it’s possible to find a sea otter somewhere in the kelp.

Dinner was a forgettable Mexican restaurant. Good dining options is something that Monterey seems to be lacking in, tourist hot-spot that it is.

Mum and pup

Mum and pup

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