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Life On The Salinas River

sea otter mom and recently born pup

sea otter mom and recently born pup

We’re at the mouth of the Salinas River, just north of Monterey.

Wonderful site to camp, right on the river, just outside the jurisdiction of a State Beach, and surrounded by the kind of farms John Steinbeck wrote about (we can almost taste the pesticides in the dust).

Here’s just some of what we saw today.

As I walked to the beach across a small bridge over the Salinas River, I looked down and saw a sea otter mom feeding and grooming her newborn.

I was stunned by the scene and absorbed in it.

I watched for 15 minutes or so in fascination as she fed and groomed her pup. She was continuously licking his anus and prodding his belly with her front paws as the pup fed (a seemingly knowledgeable fellow who also happened upon the scene told me that this is done by the mom to stimulate the pup’s nursing and digestion. He said the pup had been born in the last day or 2. He also told me that the pup is totally dependent for awhile and the mom floats on her back like this constantly nursing and sometimes abandons the pup to feed on land or in the water. The pup can not sink and apparently there are no predators, for what I saw as a vulnerable position to be in).

Every few minutes, she would move the pup off her teets to lick other parts of his body. The pup cried out loud when this occurred!

But she gently coaxed him back on the teet to feed after a few moments off.

Of course, I didn’t have my camera for all this!

But I walked back to the bus and returned a few minutes later and was luckily able to get these amazing shots (too bad I didn’t have my quality canon glass!):



Here’s the larger context:


Not to be outdone, there were tons of birds too:

Blue heron and possibly an egret (I'm no birder)

Blue heron and possibly an egret (I’m no birder)


And of course, that wildest of wildlife, Buoy loved the beach:


He also loved the bluffs at Davenport, where we also spent a few days exploring:



All for now –

PS – I still plan on posting photos from British Columbia across the Olympic pennisula and down the coast.

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