Ten Miles on Tomales Bay 2

A great advantage of paddling solo early in the morning is the wildlife. No other humans were out on the bay when I started my paddle. But there was company out on Tomales Bay.

Not far up the shore from Chicken Ranch Beach three River Otters were enjoying a breakfast frolic in early morning sunshine.

They were so busy diving to the bottom for their morning buffet that they did not notice me right away.


“Whoa. What’s up with that orange thing? It wasn’t here when we swam out here.”

I approached slowly and quietly until one of them caught sight of my bright orange and white kayak.

He (or she) alerted the others with a tweeting vocalization that might easily be mistaken as a bird call.


“Chirp! Is that a human? Does he see us?”

They paused to take some good long looks at me. I think they were trying to decide whether I had noticed them. We all more or less stopped what we were doing. After a minute or so, they resumed feeding and I went on taking photos.

Soon after, all three began to move off, swimming toward the sun.


Swimming toward the sun

I wondered, “Do they swim toward the sun to make it harder for me to see them?” It certainly seems possible to me. They live by hunting, after all. They would know that prey animals are easier to see with the sun at your back.


“Arrrgh! This human won’t let us alone.”

Because otters cannot swim as fast as kayaks, I was able to position my boat between them and the sun. Eventually, my persistence annoyed them and they swam back to shore and climbed into the brush and out of sight.

I had interrupted their breakfast.

Tomorrow I’ll post a short video interesting mainly for its audio content where you’ll be able to hear the alert chirping sounds that otters make to warn each other of danger.

2 thoughts on “Ten Miles on Tomales Bay 2

  1. Morning Dan,
    Long time no see, but I’ve been following your blog. The latest on your Tomales paddle has some wonderful photos and the recorded vocalizations will be of interest to the River Otter Ecology Project. Megan Isadore and the ROEP have partnered with an East coast researcher to explore the differences between E. coast and W. coast vocalizations, and they are collecting sound data, which is a bit hard to come by. I’m sure Megan would like to hear from you about what you’ve got, along with your great photos.
    I’d look forward to catching up one of these days.
    Megan Isadore, http://www.riverotterecology.org

  2. Hi, Jono—

    Glad to have you along! I’ll post my sightings on Megan’s ROEP site soon.

    Let’s get together soon. I’d like to paddle again with you, and maybe go sailing?


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