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Archive for the ‘Sea Lions and Seals’ Category

Santa Cruz-a-palooza (Part 3: The Wharf & Marine Sanctuary)

Posted by Jody on May 15, 2013

The Santa Cruz Wharf on California’s Central Coast  ~A quiet midweek in early May~

At 2,745 feet in length, the wooden Santa Cruz Wharf is the longest pier on the West Coast of the USA.

Greg and I had the best time exploring the Santa Cruz Wharf. We could hear the California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) barking from the beach, but we didn’t spot the first set of these noisy critters until we got to the very end of the wharf. The next morning, there were quite a few sea lions out enjoying the sunshine on the deck alongside the wharf’s waterside stairs. They were quite active and very entertaining!

About the marine sanctuary aspect of the Santa Cruz Wharf:

“The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is a Federally protected marine area offshore of California’s central coast. Stretching from Marin to Cambria, the MBNMS encompasses a shoreline length of 276 miles and 6,094 square miles of ocean. Supporting one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems, it is home to numerous mammals, seabirds, fishes, invertebrates and plants in a remarkably productive coastal environment. The MBNMS was established for the purpose of resource protection, research, education, and public use of this national treasure. The MBNMS is part of a system of 13 National Marine Sanctuaries and one marine national monument, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”

Source: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary


More helpful links~ The City of Santa Cruz: The Santa Cruz Wharf

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Marine Protected Areas and the California Marine Life Protection Act

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Northern California Beaches, Sea Lions and Seals | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Picture Perfect La Jolla Cove and Beach, Southern California

Posted by Jody on July 9, 2012

La Jolla Cove is one of the most spectacular, photogenic locations on the San Diego Coast!  Good shots of the cove can come from any angle. If you like taking pictures, I suggest that you pick a spot, enjoy the view of the coastline and wildlife, take some breathtaking photos and then move along and do it again (and again).

These pictures trace a walk Greg and I took from the bluffs, down to the beach, and then over to the tide pools.

La Jolla Cove, Southern California

From almost any vantage point, we had the perfect opportunity to see the amazing diversity of coastal wildlife that La Jolla Cove is famous for.

California Brown Pelicans, Cormorant and California Sea Lions

After enjoying the vistas from the Coast Walk Trail and paved walkways, we headed down to La Jolla Cove’s sandy beach and explored the boulder-filled tide pools nearby.

La Jolla Cove, A View from the Beach

Although a low tide is better for tide pooling, even at higher tides it’s well worth taking the time to check out the rocky puddles. There is usually a fantastic assortment of coastal critters in the high tide zone, too!

At the far end of the beach – pass through to the explore tide pools at La Jolla Cove.

 Keep your camera ready! This next shot was totally unexpected.

California Sea Lion at La Jolla Cove

Back to tide pooling…Watch your step! These rocks are slick.

Beautiful solitary anemones are plentiful in the La Jolla Cove tide pools.

If you look closely, you’ll find that these are (mostly) hermit crabs.

Rush hour in the tide pool!

Rough Limpets and barnacles in the tide pools at La Jolla Cove.

To fully experience the calm waters and undersea world of the “look but don’t touch” San Diego-Jolla Underwater Park, many visitors scuba dive or snorkel to discover a wonderful variety of colorful, semi-tropical fishes and other marine life. Kayaking and swimming are also very popular activities here.

If you plan to spend the day at La Jolla Cove, you won’t run out of things to do. Enjoy the wildlife;  swim, splash and play on the sandy beach; bring a picnic or buy a box lunch and relax at the nearby grassy Scripps Park; and stroll the cove’s coastline to your heart’s content. Whatever you choose to do with your day at La Jolla Cove, you simply can’t go wrong!

The beach at La Jolla Cove has nearby restrooms, showers and picnic areas.  Lifeguards are stationed at the cove year-round. Paid parking is available in the area, although it’s really a breeze to use San Diego’s award winning public transit system (MTS) to get to the beaches.

Sign posted at La Jolla Cove (Photo: Jody Diehl)

If you do plan to tour the La Jolla Cove tide pools, be sure to wear good beach trekkers, or at least something more protective, and slip-proof, than dime store flip flops! You might also enjoy this previous post on tide pooling and tide pool etiquette:  Tide Pool Etiquette 101.

Have fun at the beach, and don’t forget your camera!

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Monday Miscellaneous, Sea Lions and Seals, Southern California Beaches, Tide Pools | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

California Sea Lions. Noisy and Fun to Watch.

Posted by Greg on January 18, 2012

Recently, Jody and I were in San Francisco taking in the Pacific coast and getting our dose of ocean air.  Now, there are things that everyone goes to see when in San Francisco (e.g., the Golden Gate Bridge).  It’s more or less a tourist ritual.  I’ll admit that we are no exception to the rule, but Jody and I also have San Francisco ritual of our own: whenever we are in San Francisco, we make it a point to go to Fisherman’s Wharf to watch the California Sea Lions at Pier 39.

Pier 39 Sea Lion perch (Photo © Jody Diehl)

We have been fortunate in that they have been there whenever we have gone to see them, and out in fairly good numbers.  Apparently, according to some internet sources, their numbers dwindled and the sea lions became scarce toward the end of 2009. Rumor has it that they left in search of food, but for now they have made their way back to Pier 39, to the delight of tourists and locals alike.  Very noisy and quite entertaining, these coastal critters seem to be bred especially for the spotlight!  I’ve heard tell that Jody’s mother once spent more than an hour watching a pair of them take turns pushing one another off of Pier 39.  That particular spot was clearly prime sea lion real estate.  It just never gets old!

California Sea Lions are a fixture up and down the Pacific Coast of North America, from Vancouver, B.C. to the southern tip of Baja California in Mexico.  Because California Sea Lions are quite adaptable to varying environments, they can be found on natural rocks and beaches and on man-made flats, such as piers and bumper floats.

California Sea Lions on Rocky Coast of La Jolla, California(Photo ©Jody Diehl)

According to The Marine Mammal Center, California sea lions are known for their intelligence, playfulness, and noisy barking. Their color ranges from chocolate brown in males to a lighter, golden brown in females. Males reach 850 pounds (390 kg) and seven feet (2.1 m) in length. Females grow to 220 pounds (110 kg) and up to six feet (1.8 m) in length. They have a “dog-like” face, and at around five years of age, males develop a bony bump on top of their skull called a sagittal crest. The top of a male’s head often gets lighter in color with age. These members of the otariid or walking seal family have external ear flaps and large flippers that they use to ‘walk’ on land.

If you’d like to see the famous Pier 39 sea lions, you can check out the 24/7  “Sea Lion Cam”.  Alternately, we highly recommend that you look them up next time you’re in the bay area!

Happy sea lion watching!

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Sand and Shoreline, Sea Lions and Seals | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Welcome to the Children’s Pool, La Jolla, California

Posted by Greg on December 20, 2011

Photo ©Jody Diehl

Welcome to Children’s Pool, indeed. This area was created in the early 1930’s as a safe area for kids to swim. Time and tides have changed the area as sand has filled it in. Harbor Seals have moved in as the changed landscape has made it ideal for them to make it a seal rookery.  As with any wild animal, you should make it a point not to get too close to them. The laws are such that you are not allowed to disturb them deliberately in any way.

Children's Pool, La Jolla, California. Photo ©Jody Diehl

According to the City of San Diego’s official site, “The Children’s Pool is a small beach partially protected by a seawall. This is a very picturesque beach with a panoramic view. During much of the year, seals and sea lions are present on or near the beach and a reserve for these marine mammals, called Seal Rock, is just offshore. Several small beaches are nearby including Wipeout Beach to the south and Shell Beach to the north. This is a popular beach for scuba divers because of the reefs just offshore. These same reefs can create very strong currents and other hazards, particularly in high surf conditions.”

Seals near Children's Pool, La Jolla, California (©Jody Diehl)

Every time Jody and I have been at Children’s Pool in La Jolla, we have seen the Harbor Seals. You might not want to plan on swimming at this beach, though. Because of all the seals, sea lions and birds, there is a high e-coli bacteria content in the water. It is mostly worth the visit because the wildlife is really fun to watch.

If you have a place you would like featured, please let us know!  Please, by all means, feel free to submit a guest post, leave a comment, or make a request on the questions and requests page. And, please don’t forget to Like us on FaceBook.

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Sand and Shoreline, Sea Lions and Seals, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Top Ten Beaches of Humboldt County, California

Posted by Jody on August 30, 2011

Redwood National Park (Photo: NPS, from Wikimedia Commons)

With 100 miles of stunningly spectacular Northern California coastline, “California’s Redwood Coast”  was able to select the Top Ten Beaches of Humboldt County.  Humboldt County, home to the world-renowned California Redwoods, is located about 225 miles north of San Francisco. Many of the beaches on the Top Ten Beaches of Humboldt County list are part of the Humboldt County Parks system.  Be warned:  “Because of lack of financial resources, Humboldt County park facilities are considered to be more primitive than facilities managed by other agencies.” You may want to check for specific park facilities before you head for any of the Top Ten Beaches of Humboldt County!

Little River State Beach joins with Clam Beach County Park to the south.  Farther to the south connecting to Clam Beach County Park is Mad River County Park.  All three of these beaches made the list of Top Ten Beaches of Humboldt County. And all three beaches connect with a continuous ocean frontage of sand and coastal dunes.

The Mouth of Little River (Photo by Greg Kidd, from Wikimedia Commons)

Little River State Beach, with it’s wide sandy shoreline, is bordered on the north by the Little River which itself offers swimming and kayaking. Surfing and swimming are popular attractions at Little River State Beach.

Clam Beach County Park, one of the largest beaches in Humboldt County, allows camping right on the beach with its lengthy, broad stretch of flat shoreline. Clam Beach has the distinction of being awarded a Times-Standard (Eureka, California) “2009 Readers Choice Award” for being the best beach on the North Coast. Beachcombing, horseback riding and surfing are all popular activities here.

Mad River County Park is a popular spot for picnicking and beachcombing.  Here there is a boat ramp into the Mad River which is just right for paddling canoes or kayaking.

Location of Humboldt County, California (Map by David Benbennick, from Wikimedia Commons)

Agate Beach is located in Patrick’s Point State Park.  Semi-precious surf tumbled agates and more precious jade & moonstone can be found while beachcombing here. You might even find a fishing float on Agate Beach amongst the stones, shells and driftwood.

Centerville Beach County Park, with its nine mile stretch of shoreline, is the perfect beach for bird watchers.  Cormorants, sandpipers, gulls and pelicans are plentiful.  Watching harbor seals is a favorite activity too.

Rounding out the Top Ten Beaches of Humboldt County are Trinidad State Beach, Luffenholtz County Park, Gold Bluffs Beach Campground, Samoa Dunes County Park, and Black Sands Beach.

Be sure to check out all of the Top Ten Beaches of Humboldt County  beach links for additional access & safety information, and directions.

You’ll also want to have a look at the California National Monument Brochure -Trinidad Gateway. It’s both informative and beautiful.

Leave us a comment, let us know what you’d like to see!  &  please share us with your friends on Facebook. Thanks -J-

Posted in A Treasure of a Beach (Best Beaches), Northern California Beaches, Sea Lions and Seals, Surfing Beach, Tallies & Tips, Top Ten Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Family Friendly! Coles Bay Regional Park on Vancouver Island

Posted by Jody on August 26, 2011

Grab the whole family!  Coles Bay Regional Park, in North Saanich (British Columbia, Canada)  is the perfect place for an easy, family friendly walk leading to the calm waters of Coles Bay.  Kids of all ages will enjoy spotting the marine creatures that can be found in the tidal lagoons here. Starfish, crabs, and clams are plentiful.  It’s the ideal place for beachcombing, especially at low tide.  And in the fall, if you’re looking out, instead of down, you might be able to spot the seals that feed on salmon offshore.

Coles Bay Regional Park was established in 1966. Managed by the Capital Regional District, this small, out-of-the-way park is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.  (30 – 45 minute drive from Victoria) Situated on a secluded bay, the park features a forest trail that passes through majestic western red cedars. The quick (10 minute) beach trail takes you along a quiet creek to the gentle swimming beach of Coles Bay. *Wear your beach-trekkers. The shoreline is rocky and barnacle covered.* Picnicking and birding are also great choices here.  I’d plan to spend the day!

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada (By Mattes, from Wikimedia Commons)

The Capital Regional District has a beautiful 24 page brochure to help you choose from the picture-perfect regional parks and activities on Southern Vancouver Island & the Southern Gulf Islands.  The district manages over 32,000 acres of strikingly beautiful natural areas including 33 parks and regional trails.  Thirteen of the parks have beaches and most of the parks appear to have stunning coastal views!

I think I’ll start with Coles Bay Regional Park!

Let us know what you’d like to see!  Leave a comment for us & we’ll check it out. -J-

Posted in Beach Birding, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Beaches of North America, Sand and Shoreline, Sea Lions and Seals, Tide Pools | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Elephant Seals Along the Central California Coast

Posted by Jody on August 10, 2011

I have friends who will be driving along the Pacific Coast from the Los Angeles area to San Francisco over the Labor Day weekend.  I thought I might just give them a preview of the elephant seal rookeries nestled on the beaches they’ll be passing along the way.  These photos were taken late in the year from a vantage point north of Morro Bay, California.

Large, and often noisy, (especially during breeding season) the male elephant seals can grow up to 14 feet long.  The rookeries are often manned by friendly attentive docents who are there to help you understand and learn about these extraordinary marine mammals.  There are informative signs posted at the platforms and overlooks along the way also.

Elephant Seals, Central California Coast (©Jody Diehl)

The group, Friends of the Elephant Seal, has a wonderful website that is loaded with information on elephant seals, the rookeries, other marine mammals, and the non-profit organization’s mission.

Elephant Seals, Central California Coast (©Jody Diehl)

Life’s a journey!  Enjoy the ride!  -J-

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Pacific Coast Beaches, Sand and Shoreline, Sea Lions and Seals | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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