Category

Monterey

Sea Lion Entangled in Monofiliment Line

Environmental Problems, Monterey, Sea Lion

This California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) has a severe neck laceration caused by what is likely monofiliment fishing line wrapped around its neck and digging into its skin. Monofiliment fishing line is an exceptionally thin and strong type of synthetic line used for sportfishing. Given that it is designed to be nearly invisible in the water (so the fish do not see it), it is easy to imagine how a passing sea lion, turtle or diving seabird might become tangled in it were the animal unfortunate enough to encounter abandoned monofiliment line in the water. Abandoned fishing line? Absolutely! Fisherman often simply cut their lines if they are unable to clear a snagged line. The abandoned line will last hundreds of years in the water, waiting there to entangle whatever that it comes in contact with. Such line is quite thin and consequently cuts easily into even the tough hides of sea lions. And it is strong, meant to withstand the pull of strong gamefish, so it will not easily give way even if the sea lion were to somehow gain purchase on it and try to break it. Instead, the monofiliment line will slowly, steadily cut into the sea lion’s flesh, eventually causing the animal to suffer from suffocation, starvation or infection.

California sea lion, with monofiliment cut, Zalophus californianus, Monterey

California sea lion, with monofiliment cut.
Image ID: 00958
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Monterey, California, USA

Appearances nothwithstanding, this sea lion was simply dozing and had been awake and alert minutes before this photo. However, the injury it is experiencing clearly has the potential for infection. I did not see this sea lion again so do not know if it was rescued and rehabilitated or ?

See more photos of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).

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.

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.

Rough Sex Redux

California, Monterey, Wildlife

I was recently up in Monterey to join Jon Cornforth trying to photograph sea otters (Enhydra lutris). We saw a few. In this photo, Casanova (the male sea otter on the left) is holding his lady friend (the female, inverted on the right, apparently not enjoying it) by HER NOSE as he mates with her. It is brutal, yes, but it is standard otter fare. Male sea otters usually mate with females in this manner, so much so that females can usually be identified by their scarred and wounded noses.

Sea otters mating.  The male holds the female's head or nose with his jaws during copulation. Visible scars are often present on females from this behavior.  Sea otters have a polygynous mating system. Many males actively defend territories and will mate with females that inhabit their territory or seek out females in estrus if no territory is established. Males and females typically bond for the duration of estrus, or about 3 days, Enhydra lutris, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, California

Sea otters mating. The male holds the female’s head or nose with his jaws during copulation. Visible scars are often present on females from this behavior. Sea otters have a polygynous mating system. Many males actively defend territories and will mate with females that inhabit their territory or seek out females in estrus if no territory is established. Males and females typically bond for the duration of estrus, or about 3 days.
Image ID: 21606
Species: Sea otter, Enhydra lutris
Location: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, California, USA

See more of our sea otter photos.

What’s with the title of this post, you might wonder? Strangely, an earlier post of mine entitled “Rough Sex” has become one of the most popular posts on this site. So I thought I would do a little shameless SEO and use the technique again hoping for more visitors.

Photo of Hermissenda Crassicornis Nudibranch

California, Invertebrate, Monterey, Underwater Life

This photo of a Hermissenda crassicornis, also known as an “Opalescent nudibranch”, was shot in the early 90’s near Carmel on the Monterey Peninsula. We rented a house in the town of Carmel for a week. Anticipating foggy skies and cold murky water, we did not expect to do much diving. However, surprised with sunny weather and clearer-than-normal water, we made a number boat dives and a few beach dives not far from the house, resulting in a nice variety of invertebrate images including some nudibranchs. This is one of those images.

Nudibranch on calcareous coralline algae, Hermissenda crassicornis, Monterey, California

Nudibranch on calcareous coralline algae.
Image ID: 01064
Species: Opalescent nudibranch, Hermissenda crassicornis
Location: Monterey, California, USA

The Sea Slug Forum has a great fact sheet page on this species. Also, the SlugSite has an excellent species description of Hermissenda crassicornis.

Keywords: nudibranch photo, sea slug, Hermissenda crassicornis, underwater, photograph, Monterey, California, Carmel.