A Pacific harbor seal eyes the photographer while swimming in the shallows. This group of harbor seals, which has formed a breeding colony at a small but popular beach near San Diego, is at the center of considerable controversy. While harbor seals are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other legislation, local interests would like to see the seals leave so that people can resume using the beach.
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California
Image ID: 15546
A sea otter eats a clam that it has taken from the shallow sandy bottom of Elkhorn Slough. Because sea otters have such a high metabolic rate, they eat up to 30% of their body weight each day in the form of clams, mussels, urchins, crabs and abalone. Sea otters are the only known tool-using marine mammal, using a stone or old shell to open the shells of their prey as they float on their backs.
Species: Sea otter, Enhydra lutris
Location: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Landing, California
Image ID: 21612
Shallow water reef with coniferous forest hanging over the water, Browning Pass, Vancouver Island.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Image ID: 35433