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California Dreamin~

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Sunday is dog day afternoon in Moro Bay California in winter time!
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Squirrels come from all across America for their annual beach convention in Cambria California.
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Peli can cage fish from the fishermen,
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and is on the lookout for handouts.
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Vain egret keeps her feathers looking lovely.

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Oystercatcher snoozes in the sun,

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while pied billed grebe scouts the sea for supper.
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Winter sunset sends you cheers from Oxnard California~

Los Toros Del Mar~

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Northern bull elephant seals weigh up to 5000 pounds and reach up to 16 feet in length! Their Southern counterparts are larger.
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In addition to their size, they are quite bullish in behavior, fighting constantly with other males,

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and forcing themselves on often quite unwilling females,

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who are much smaller than they are.

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On shore they dominate large harems and defend them from other males.
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Male Northern Elephant Seals spend eight months alone at sea. They forage in deep dives 24 hours a day, often at the bottom of the ocean, where other predators are scarce.
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The deepest recorded bull elephant dive was 5788 feet and the longest recorded continuous dive was just over two hours on one breath!

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California male elephant seals forage at the edge of the continental shelf, all the way to the Aleutian islands. Orcas and sharks predate on them and approximately one in three males are killed each year, mainly by orcas.
Cheers to you from the bullish, and amazing, male elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Rookery in California~

Source (and for more information) check out: http://www.elephantseal.org/

We Otta Be Ottahs~

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Cuz life just floats by.
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Sea Otters live in close communities called rafts. Can you see the babies floating on their mamas? Hint: they are the brown fuzzy bumps with little faces resting on their mama’s bellies? (CLick to enlarge for better optics).
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Like all communities with time on their hands, gossip can be a problem.
“If you say this one more time, Edna, I swear, I will cover my ears!”
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A new human like me, is easily noticed.
“Who are you odd human, and why are you staring at me?”
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Discussing the merits of tonight’s seafood dining options, Earle makes the best suggestion.

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Otter newlyweds with their new pup float happily together.

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Single mom’s seem quite content on their own.
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While bachelor & bachelorette otters can float anywhere they want and may be the happiest otters of all.
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Eventually babies get fed up with resting on top of mom, and just float off on their own looking for adventure.

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Rarely, an otter just can’t keep going along lazily with the group, he has to break out, be an individual, kick his web-footed heels to the sky!
Cheers to you from the happily floating (and kicking) Morro Bay Sea Otters in California~

Note: Sea Otters were nearly hunted to extinction in the 1800’s for their fur. Populations are slowly recovering, but otters are still an endangered species and are threatened by fish net entanglement, oil spills, and boat strikes.

Ellie Seal Pups~

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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

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Maternal infant bonds are evident and strong! Mamas can be seen frequently kissing pups.
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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.

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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:
https://cindyknoke.com/tag/northern-bull-elephant-seal-mating-behavior/

The Grizzlies Are Sleeping~

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all snug in their beds,
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while dreams of salmon,

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dance in their heads.

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

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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.

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

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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.
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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~

Pike Place Paradise~

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Seattle’s Pike Place Market is a browsing, and eating paradise.
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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. 🐮🐮🐮
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The quantity of stunning flowers, particularly the dahlias, are incredible.
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The produce, fish and food stalls, will keep you occupied and eating for hours. Don’t eat before you visit here!
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There is a Miss Biggy-Piggy for messages,
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and lovely places to eat outdoors and watch the ships sail in to port.
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Don’t miss The Giant Shoe Museum (actually you could, but don’t tell anyone I said this).
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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~

Salton Sea Shorebirds~

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Snowy Egret hunting for dinner,

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plunges his beak,
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and pulls out a fish!
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Night Herons, White Faced Ibis, Snowy Egrets and Great White Herons, block my path!

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424 different bird species have been identified at The Salton Sea, including this handsome Snowy Egret with striped stocking legs.
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The placid Black Bellied Plover eats bugs in the sand,
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while White Pelicans lumber off as I near.
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They soon skid back,
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flashing irked looks my way!
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Great Blue Herons watch as if saying, “I’m a very big bird, you better be careful, if you come my way!”
Cheers to you from the wintering shorebirds at The Salton Sea~