More About Elkhorn Slough

There’s a lot more to see at Elkhorn Slough than Sea Lions. While I was paddling there I saw a lot of Harbor Seals, Brown Pelicans, and Sea Otters. Getting close to these animals was easy to do, especially in the Moss Landing Harbor area where they seem to have gotten quite used to people nearby.

I am usually quite careful to keep my distance from wildlife so as  not to disturb them. Here at Moss Landing I (and many others) got within a few feet of them. Here’s a photo—taken with my waterproof camera at very close range—of a whole bunch of seals who didn’t seem at all bothered by the fact that I was so near to them.




There were gulls and Brown Pelicans sunning and resting on the same sandbar which was quite close to the launching area maintained by the Moss Landing Harbor District near Kayak Connection and Moss Landing Yacht Club on Highway One.


I believe those are males in that colorful plumage.


Sea Otters and Cormorants were shyer than the Sea Lions, Pelicans and Harbor Seals. For them, I had to pull out my point-and-shoot with a telephoto lens.


The fellow in the water is a sea otter. They’re members of the weasel family, have no blubber, and stay warm thanks to a very thick undercoat of fur.


If, like me, all you knew about Elkhorn Slough is what you might know from driving by on California Highway 1, you might think it’s pretty unspectacular. I mean there is a large two-stack power plant placed prominently at the end of the slough. Accompanied by the transmission towers leading away from it, Moss Landing looks pretty industrial. Not much of a place for nature lovers, you’d think.



But take a few minutes to paddle east, under the busy Highway 1 bridge and soon you’ll find yourself in a fairly large estuary a quarter of a mile wide in places and stretching back five miles or so into an oak grassland savanna. It can be quite easy on the eyes.



And you’ll have the company of seals, pelicans, cormorants, and sea otters as you paddle.


Those are Brandt’s Cormorants if I’m reading my Silby’s Bird Book right

And not too many people. That’s the way I like it.

5 thoughts on “More About Elkhorn Slough

  1. Hi Dan,
    Here’s my thoughts on staying back from wild life. Some people should as they aren’t cool. However, we need to learn to live with them as we all live in the same place. I’m not getting this across well. There isn’t enough space for us all to live apart, so we need to learn to live together with them. That means we can mingle a bit. A fact that is overlooked is there is more wild life living in our cities then there are in our forests. Why is that? That’s because there is more good food in people’s yards then there is in the forests. Another big reason is it is a lot saver in our populated areas for them than in our forests. Not too many predators in the cities, yet, but they are coming and that may be a bit of a problem for us. Animals tend to use the waterways, creeks and rivers as freeways to get around in populated areas.
    That’s my opinion of course. :O)

  2. Here’s another one. I was down in Arizona a couple of years ago in the winter. I didn’t see or hear even one coyote in the three weeks I spent out in the desert and very little wild life. However, when I went in to visit a friend that lives in a very populated place called Surprise, I saw all kinds of birds and rabbits and things in her backyard. At night I heard the coyotes howling as loud as I’ve ever heard them. Stood my hair up on my neck. I asked the lady if there was a park or something across the street and she said no, just more houses.
    See, a lot more goodies in the housing area then out in the dry desert.
    Where would you want to live, out in the desert where food is scarce and you could easily be eaten by a predator or in a populated area with lots of food and water and some protection?

  3. Thanks for the thoughts, Bob. I get it that people and wild animals need to share the environment. I live in downtown Sebastopol and we have raccoons, possums, skunks & birds aplenty. Even the occasional deer comes through our yard.

    When I’m out on my kayak in estuaries, I think of myself as a guest (because I don’t live there) and act accordingly. I think its good to remember that those places are homes and places to find food. I don’t like it when I see people who act as if the animals are guests, or worse, animal entertainers.

    I like the way you seem to interact, quietly, slowly, and with respect for the animals you’re observing.


  4. I don’t know why, but for reasons I cannot figure out WordPress won’t put up the third comment you left yesterday about the people who “guard” the seals. I’m going to put it up so people can see your thoughts on that.

  5. NOTE: THIS COMMENT IS FROM BOB NOBLE. (For some reason this third comment of his didn’t get posted when he left it, so I’m putting his thoughts up here so all can read them.)

    As long as I’m on my soap box, Here’s another one. There are people that are supposedly protecting the seals down at the mouth of the Russian river. They put up signs and ropes and have seal watch people on weekends. The signs and ropes get loose and litter the estuary. John who lives in Jenner and picks up a lot of trash is tired of picking up their lost signs and worst is trying to get their lost ropes out of the debrie on the beach. These long ropes can tangle up wild life. I talked with John today on the boat ramp when I pulled out about this very topic. He says they are a bitch to get them out. They put this stuff out and never try to pick it up. On weekends they have people out on the beach trying to keep people away from the harbor seals. They wave their arms and shout and sometimes use whistles to warm people away from the seals. One guy who lives down there uses a bullhorn to shout at people. Doesn’t he realize he is just as bad or worse than the people? They mean well, but their very presence keeps the seals on edge as the watch people are very uppity, which in itself scares the seals and in fact is harassing other people that are trying to enjoy the beach. I find that the seals are very capable of taking care of themselves despite what other’s may think.
    Off the box for now. :O) Just some thoughts.

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