Ellie Seal Pups~

Piedras Blancas in California has a thriving rookery of Northern Elephant Seals, a sub-species of the largest seals in the world reaching up to 5000 pounds and 16 feet in length. Pups are born here mostly in the month of January.

Births peak mid January.
Over 5000 births occur annually here. Some nice mamas like this one, feed pups other than their own!

Elephant seals nurse for about a month, during this time, mothers stay with pups continuously and do not return to to the sea to feed until weaning is complete.

Elephant Seal milk is the richest milk in the mammalian world, which it needs to be since elephant seals grow so rapidly. This cheeky seagull pecked this little pup causing him to unlatch during nursing, releasing milk, which the seagull tried to drink!

Mama obviously did not approve!
There are still newborns in the rookery now, identifiable by their neonatal folds.

Maternal infant bonds are evident and strong! Mamas can be seen frequently kissing pups.
Northern Elephant Seal populations were hunted to the brink of extinction and by the late 1800’s there were under 100 of them left worldwide. The species has made a remarkable come-back due to conservation efforts and marine mammal protections.

Cheers to you from the friendly ellie-pups at Piedras Blancas Rookery~

To see how big these little guys will grow check out my post from a year ago about the bulls:

The Grizzlies Are Sleeping~

all snug in their beds,
while dreams of salmon,

dance in their heads.

Last year at this time I posted the highlight of 2015 which was spending time with Mama-Griz and Her Mini-me in Glacier National Park in Montana.

This year the highlight of 2016 was spending time with the twenty six or so grizzlies and cubs in the Knight Inlet in Canada.

It is an absolute thrill to observe and photograph these magnificent creatures in the wild. I took so many photos in the inlet and thought I would share some more with you.

The grizzly bear is listed as a threatened species in the contiguous United States and endangered in parts of Canada.

Ursus Artos Californicus is the symbol of my state, California. In 1866, a grizzly described as weighing as much as 2,200 pounds was killed at The Holler, the biggest bear ever found in California. Today this California species is extinct.

Does this guy look like a well fed and happy Baloo Bear to you?

It is my sincere hope that the remaining grizzlies in North America will be allowed to live out their lives in peace. Cheers to you from the now sleeping grizzlies of the Knight Inlet~

Owled Again~

Burrowing Owl populations in San Diego County have been sharply depleted by extensive development and are at risk for local extinction.
In San Diego they are a protected species under the Multi-Species Protection Act, and are protected by state and federal wildlife agencies.
The Living Coast Discovery Center in The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge is breeding these remarkable little owls and visitors can get up close and personal with these very curious creatures which is an incredible experience.
In the wild Burrowing Owls live mostly in squirrel and gopher burrows, often sharing space with their furry room mates.
The most reliable place to view Borrowing Owls in the wild in Southern California is at The Sony Bono Nature Preserve at The Salton Sea.
Artificial burrows have been set up here where you can watch the owls and their nests in the wild which is quite fascinating!
Cheers to you from the curious and way too cute Burrowing Owls~
For More Information on the depletion of Burrowing Owls in San Diego County see:

Click to access Burrowing%20Owl.pdf

Green Sea Turtle Refuge~

San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge has a residential group of approximately 60 protected Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtles. No one knows how they got here, but it is assumed they were caught many decades ago in Mexico, brought to the bay alive, and escaped from fishing pens, prior to being slaughtered. They settled successfully in the bay due to waters that are artificially warmed by nearby industry.

This is the only area on the west coast of the US where green sea turtles are known to congregate and thrive.
These turtles are an endangered species due to habitat destruction, illegal poaching, inadvertent fish netting, boat strikes, and plastic ingestion.
San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge is one of the few safe sanctuaries for these peaceful and VERY large turtles. The largest turtle ever measured here weighed 530 lbs, which is the largest known green turtle in the Eastern Pacific.
There is a rehab, rescue and education center in the refuge, where injured and rescued native wildlife are cared for, including a small number of green sea turtles. The center provides education on the pressing need for conservation of native species and is open to visitors.

I was amazed at how friendly the turtles are!

They swim to the sides of their plexiglass tank to interact and seem genuinely happy to goof around with you!
Cheers to you from the magnificent, goofy & gregarious, seriously endangered Pacific Green Sea Turtles.
Do you want to imagine the world without them? Do you want the Trump administration to repeal existing environmental and vulnerable species protections?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more info: https://swfsc.noaa.gov/textblock.aspx?Division=PRD&ParentMenuId=212&id=4378

Pike Place Paradise~

Seattle’s Pike Place Market is a browsing, and eating paradise.
Could you resist buying from this cow? I couldn’t. I think the bedazzled pink tennis shoes are an especially nice touch and I think all cows should have them. 🐮🐮🐮
The quantity of stunning flowers, particularly the dahlias, are incredible.
The produce, fish and food stalls, will keep you occupied and eating for hours. Don’t eat before you visit here!
There is a Miss Biggy-Piggy for messages,
and lovely places to eat outdoors and watch the ships sail in to port.
Don’t miss The Giant Shoe Museum (actually you could, but don’t tell anyone I said this).
There are many stalls to explore filled with handmade art like these detailed miniature flowers in their tiny pots (click to enlarge and see the detail).
Cheers to you from the enticing Pikes Place Market~