First sea otter sighting for our crew south of Monterey.
Wikipedia: Mother Sea Otter with pup at Morro Rock, Feb. 12, 2007 – photo by Mike Baird, bairdphotos.com
Sea Otters have been under assault since the 18th century and their regeneration, in spite of regulations protecting them, has been slow. Slow and controversial.
Though sea otter numbers are extremely small, they compete with fishermen and urchin divers, and urchin divers and fishermen have had more sway with Congress, so the sea otter hasn’t had the protection they’ve needed to regenerate.
Nevertheless, on our trip back into harbor yesterday, we spotted one fishing in the channel. I’ve been sailing these waters for 10 years, more than 150 days every year and this is the first one I’ve seen south of Monterey. There aren’t many – probably less than 3,000 along the entire California coast, but we’ll continue to keep our eyes open when we’re near shore as they rarely venture past the 15 fathom curve.
For an excellent discussion of sea otter problems and politics, read this Sept. 2013 account in the Santa Barbara Independent.
We don’t chase them down, couldn’t even if we had a mind to. But we’ve had Blues and Humpbacks sidle up to us fairly recently.
Gray Whales are starting to show up per the schedule, while farther south a number of Blue Whales and Fin Whales still linger. Though I haven’t seen any myself, ORCAS are in the southeast end of the channel and at least one lonesome Sperm Whale (think Moby Dick) showed up near LA in the last few days.
The Condor express out of Santa Barbara reports numerous Humpbacks and Minkes everyday and Monterey reports numerous Humpbacks.
At a more prosaic level, we see dolphins every day, sometimes megapods with thousands of common Pacific dolphins and larger than usual pods of Risso’s dolphins.
It’s been a great year for Cetacean lovers, and it seems to show little let-up.