Elkhorn Slough

What is a slough, you ask? I didn’t know either until we were invited on a “boat safari” by the garden club of the lady who we did our home exchange with. It turns out to be a body of water, either salty or plain, usually muddy, which can be an inlet, a marsh or a pond. This slough, when seen from a distance up above, resembles the horns of an elk, stretching out and twisting along the coast near a little harbor called Moss Landing. We had a beautiful day with blue skies, sunshine and smooth water and saw all sorts of interesting wild life. I’ve always loved biology and this was a great way to learn more about local life.

A group of brown sea lions. This group happened to be on a little pier but we saw many swimming along in the water and several groups on the shore as we moved along. We can hear the same species of seals from our house barking day and night. They have just arrived from Mexico. In Pebble Beach, you can see them on a large rock in the ocean called Bird Rock which is usually covered with birds but there don’t seem to be as many since the seals arrived. There were also harbor seals in the slough, a different species, which had a very funny bark.

I loved seeing sea otters at the Monterey Aquarium but it doesn’t compare with seeing them in the wild. This one had some sort of clam on it’s chest. This is the way they eat. In fact, they often use “tools” to open sea shells, either a rock or another shell or even a beer bottle. The captain of the boat had a photo of one with a beer bottle tucked under the otter’s fin that it used to bash open a shell. We passed a large group of the otters numbering about 50. They were once almost extinct and we were told that at one time there were about 32 otters in the slough and that there were now over 200 due to inbreeding which weakens that genetic chain, sort of like my cousins in the south.

Here’s three more otter floating on their backs. They keep their feet up like that to warm them and raise their body temperature, rather like we cover our heads to keep warm in the winter. That water is very cold.

We saw all sorts of birds including a whole lot of pelicans.

Here is an otter trying to eat his meal while the seagull is asking, “Is there any for me?”

And a giant egret reflected nicely in the water.

What a nice morning we had out there on the water. There is nothing like nature to refresh the soul.

5 thoughts to “Elkhorn Slough”

  1. What darling faces !!! I’m glad that it appears you are having a great time. You know we expect pictures of grand babies !!!!! Didn’t you say you’d be seeing them?

  2. This is an interesting feature of California that is seldom discussed I think. The entire City of Stockton, California is built on a slough that was mostly filled in, leaving slough channels at various places. We lived there for six months and the wildlife, even close in to town, was incredible. Traveling on those channels the water is so permeated with peat and dark. A little eerie. My only concern was that the place MIGHT be sinking!

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