Monthly Archives

November 2008

Sea Otter Photos

California, Monterey, Wildlife

Check out our selection of sea otter stock photos.

The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is found along the coasts of the northeastern Pacific ocean. Sea otters are marine mammals. Adult sea otters weigh about 30 to 100 lb. Sea otters are the largest species in the weasel family, but are considered the smallest of the marine mammals. Unlike most marine mammals who rely on thick blubber, the sea otter’s insulation comes from thick fur which is the densest fur in the animal kingdom. Sea otters inhabit nearshore environments where they dive and forage for food along the sea floor. Sea otters prey upon marine invertebrates including sea urchins, molluscs and crustaceans. Occasionally sea otters will consume fish. The foraging and eating habits of the sea otter are significant in several ways. First, sea otters use of rocks to open shells, meaning sea otters are one of the few mammal species to use tools. In most of its range, the sea otter’s presence serves to control sea urchin populations which, if left unchecked, would grow to levels damaging to kelp forest ecosystems. Notably, the sea otter preys upon certain animals (abalone, urchin) that are valued by humans as food, leading to conflicts between sea otters and fisheries.

A sea otter, looking at the photographer as it forages for food in Elkhorn Slough, Enhydra lutris, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, California

A sea otter, looking at the photographer as it forages for food in Elkhorn Slough.
Image ID: 21611
Species: Sea otter, Enhydra lutris
Location: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, California, USA

Sea otter populations were once estimated to be between 150,000–300,000. Sea otters were heavily hunted in the 1700’s and 1800’s for their fur, leading to a decline in the world population to as few as an estimated 1,000–2,000 otters. A ban on hunting sea otters was initiated which, along with conservation efforts and reintroduction programs, led to a rebound in the population which now spans about 2/3 of its original range. The sea otter is still considered an endangered species.

Indian Summer, or, Why We Live Here

California, Carlsbad, Surf

Hit the water this morning at 7am. Full sun, deep blue sky, not a cloud, mild warm offshore breezes, glassy sea, small but fun waves. Went for a walk with my daughter at Moonlight Beach at sunset tonight, deep orange-red sky, not a cloud, mild warm offshore breezes, glassy sea, small but fun waves. Get the picture? While much of the country is dealing with snow, rain, or just plain miserable cold, it is nearly idyllic here.

Green room, Ponto, Carlsbad, California

Green room.
Image ID: 21788
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Moonlight Beach at sunset, Encinitas, California

Moonlight Beach at sunset.
Image ID: 21794
Location: Moonlight Beach, Encinitas, California, USA

Moonlight Beach at sunset, Encinitas, California

Moonlight Beach at sunset.
Image ID: 21793
Location: Moonlight Beach, Encinitas, California, USA

Ponto Surf, 11-15-2008

California, Carlsbad, Surf

Fun surf at Ponto this morning. Nice offshore wind, shoulder high sets once in a while. It got crowded about 8am, and the high tide softened the waves up so I got out by 9am and off to a soccer game.

Wave breaking in early morning sunlight, Ponto, Carlsbad, California

Wave breaking in early morning sunlight.
Image ID: 21779
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Longboarder carves wave in early morning sun, Ponto, Carlsbad, California

Longboarder carves wave in early morning sun.
Image ID: 21783
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Wave breaking in early morning sunlight, Ponto, Carlsbad, California

Wave breaking in early morning sunlight.
Image ID: 21785
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Photo of Mobius Arch, Alabama Hills

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, California, Sierra Nevada

Mobius Arch Photograph

I made a banzai run up to the Alabama Hills last weekend. The weather forecast looked favorable, and I had not been up along the Eastern Sierra for some years, so it just seemed like the thing to do. I got up early to photograph Mobius Arch at sunrise. Mobius Arch, a natural stone arch, is the most striking and notable arch in the Alabama Hills. It is also known as Movie Road Arch, Alabama Hills Arch, Moebius Arch, and, in a tribute to photographer Galen Rowell, Galen’s Arch. Mobius Arch is about 17 feet wide and 6 feet high, and nicely frames both Lone Pine Peak and Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevada range. Situated in the Owens Valley alongside the Sierra Nevada, just below Mt. Whitney, the Alabama Hills Recreational Area (administered by the BLM) is a 30,000 acre area of fantastic granite and metamorphosed rock, in an endless variety of rounded shapes and sizes.

Mobius Arch at sunrise, with Mount Whitney (the tallest peak in the continental United States), Lone Pine Peak and snow-covered Sierra Nevada Range framed within the arch.  Mobius Arch is a 17-foot-wide natural rock arch in the scenic Alabama Hills Recreational Area near Lone Pine, California

Mobius Arch at sunrise, with Mount Whitney (the tallest peak in the continental United States), Lone Pine Peak and snow-covered Sierra Nevada Range framed within the arch. Mobius Arch is a 17-foot-wide natural rock arch in the scenic Alabama Hills Recreational Area near Lone Pine, California.
Image ID: 21729
Location: Alabama Hills Recreational Area, California, USA

Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills, seen here at night with swirling star trails formed in the sky above due to a long time exposure, Alabama Hills Recreational Area

Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills, seen here at night with swirling star trails formed in the sky above due to a long time exposure.
Image ID: 27681
Location: Alabama Hills Recreational Area, California, USA

Mobius Arch at sunrise, framing snow dusted Lone Pine Peak and the Sierra Nevada Range in the background. Also known as Galen's Arch, Mobius Arch is found in the Alabama Hills Recreational Area near Lone Pine

Mobius Arch at sunrise, framing snow dusted Lone Pine Peak and the Sierra Nevada Range in the background. Also known as Galen’s Arch, Mobius Arch is found in the Alabama Hills Recreational Area near Lone Pine.
Image ID: 27627
Location: Alabama Hills Recreational Area, California, USA

See more of our Mobius Arch photos

Keywords: Mobius Arch, photo, picture, Sierra Nevada, Alabama Hills, image, photograph, California, Lone Pine, Mount Whitney.

Not Impressed

California, Monterey, Wildlife

We came to Monterey packing some serious photo schwag to photograph the otters. Between Jon and I, we had two 50Ds and at least one each of 5D, 1DIIN, 1DsII, 300/2.8, 400/DO and 500/4 lenses, plus a nice medium format film rig. This sea otter (Enhydra lutris) was nevertheless quite unimpressed.

A sea otter, resting on its back, grooms the fur on its head.  A sea otter depends on its fur to keep it warm and afloat, and must groom its fur frequently, Enhydra lutris, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, California

A sea otter, resting on its back, grooms the fur on its head. A sea otter depends on its fur to keep it warm and afloat, and must groom its fur frequently.
Image ID: 21605
Species: Sea otter, Enhydra lutris
Location: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, California, USA

See more of our sea otter photos

Sea Nettles

California, Monterey, Underwater Life

When I visit Monterey I always make a stop by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Always. My kids love it, and I can get a better look at some of the undersea life by visiting the aquarium than if I went to the hassle of actually diving. (I used to dive in the cold waters of Monterey, but am now a wuss and … you get the picture.) The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the finest aquariums in the country. This sea nettle jellyfish (Chrysaora fuscescens) is beautifully lit in one of the Outer Bay jellyfish tanks at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Sea nettle jellyfish, Chrysaora fuscescens

Sea nettle jellyfish.
Image ID: 21511
Species: Sea nettles, Chrysaora fuscescens

I made this shot using some tricks I know for making good photos in an aquarium setting, hand held with no flash.

See more of our jellyfish photos

Otter Paparazzi

California, Monterey, Wildlife

Here is one of the cuter sea otters (Enhydra lutris) I managed to photograph in Monterey recently. After shooting one afternoon’s worth of otters, both Jon and I decided that it was not worth spending time taking pictures of the dark-faced otters — their deep brown fur made it tough to get an appealing exposure without blowing out the background. So, like guys are wont to do the world over, we focused our attention entirely on the blondes. Seen in this photo is “Paris,” known for her vacant expression and vacuous intellect.* As one would expect, the blond otters made for the best photos, something about having been to modeling school and having a good surgeon.

A sea otter, resting on its back, holding its paw out of the water for warmth.  While the sea otter has extremely dense fur on its body, the fur is less dense on its head, arms and paws so it will hold these out of the cold water to conserve body heat, Enhydra lutris, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, California

A sea otter, resting on its back, holding its paw out of the water for warmth. While the sea otter has extremely dense fur on its body, the fur is less dense on its head, arms and paws so it will hold these out of the cold water to conserve body heat.
Image ID: 21602
Species: Sea otter, Enhydra lutris
Location: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, California, USA

See more of our sea otter photos.

* The astute observer will note that this otter, being male**, technically should not be named Paris. Good point, we’ll call him Jessica.

** If you are not able to identify this otter as a male, then go here to get the info.