Frankly, up to this point this trip has been a little disappointing when it comes to wildlife. Yes, we’ve seen a couple of golden eagles, plenty of hawks and lots of lizards, but we haven’t seen anything new, nor any of the “special” animals. Can’t tell you how many hikes we took trying to find bighorns, desert turtles or even a mountain lion or two. Nothing. However, today was targeted to be the day that changed all that.
We started our day by climbing on some rocks at the beach near Cannery Row. There, our luck started to change as we spotted six or seven sea otters about 200 feet off shore. Neither of us has ever seen one of special creatures and we were thrilled to watch them float on their backs and break open their shellfish. Although they were at binocular distance we could still clearly see what they were doing.
It was getting close to time to depart for our whale watching cruise so we tore ourselves away from the otters and headed to Fisherman’s Wharf. We found a place to turn around and all of a sudden two deer were right there at our car! They were grazing on the flowers in a yard in an ocean-side home. They were a bit startled to see us and ran off down the road. Our wildlife luck was beginning to turn!
We checked in for our three-hour whale cruise. They have been seeing whales every day this week and they guaranteed we’d see them today. Woo hoo!!!! We pushed off from the dock and immediately we saw hundreds, if not thousands of sea lions. They were lining the jetty and were sunning on every rock and buoy in the harbor. (More woo hoos!)
About 15 minutes into the cruise we started seeing dolphins. Ten, twenty, a hundred, hundreds!!!! They were everywhere, darting, diving, and even some were jumping totally out of the water! So awesome! The captain said there were well over a thousand dolphins in that pod! We stayed with them for over a half hour and every person on board that boat was full of smiles!
I was standing on the front of the boat near the captain’s window. I asked him if the dolphins were a good sign that we were going to see whales. He said that it didn’t look good for whales because the weather was getting rough. He said he was still going to try to get us out far enough to see whales, but things were pretty iffy.
Sure enough, the weather started getting rough and the tiny ship was tossed! It really was a wild ride as we plowed through the 6 and 7 foot waves. We’d hit a trough and could see the water above the boat. Then the boat would crash to the bottom of the wave and it looked like we were thirty feet above the sea. The captain made us all sit down and hold on. He didn’t need to tell us twice!
We got our land legs back and decided to head to Moss Landing. We heard that was a good place to see otters. It’s about a twenty minute drive north of Monterey, but it’s worth it! There were about 18 – 20 otters eating and playing in the channel. One of them stayed about 15 feet away from us….showing off I think! Mona named him “Otto” and tried to coax him into our car. Thankfully, without success! We must have taken a hundred pictures of otters and Otto….lucky for you we’ll only post a couple.
We definitely had a great wildlife day. Over a thousand dolphins, hundreds of sea lions, probably a hundred seals and about 30 sea otters. Not to mention the seagulls, pelicans, and oyster-divers. Love days like this! P.S. Thanks MNA for your Monterey recommendations!