Readers’ wildlife photos

It’s been a while since we’ve had photos from Joe Dickinson, but we have some nice ones today, including everyone’s favorite seagoing mammal. His captions are indented. Oh—and keep those photos coming in!

Here are a few photos from a whale watching cruise we did in Monterey Bay a few days ago.  Gray whales and orcas had been reported over the last few weeks, the latter sometimes preying on calves of the former, but we saw only humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae) and a very large pod (probably 50-60) of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis)
The humpbacks were not being very active but we did see a few of the typical flukes-up sounding dives.
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In this next shot, you can see a few of the dolphins coming in from the right.  Note, also, that we’re not very far off the beach.
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The dolphins were very hard to photograph.  They move fast and you can’t know when and where they will surface.  Moreover, we’re on a small, lurching boat and I was mostly trying to hold the camera in one hand so I could keep a grip on something.  Here is the best I managed.
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As a diversion while we were cruising at top speed (10 knots?) I watched a gull (probably a juvenile California gull, Larus californicus) effortlessly hold position and repeatedly “attack” the tip of an antenna.
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In addition to whales and dolphins, we saw a good number of sea otters (Enhydra lutris).  Here is one feasting on about $20 worth of Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister). [JAC: it looks very happy, as I’d be if I were eating Dungeness crab.]
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Back in harbor (Moss Landing) we watched another otter eating clams while we picnicked on calamari sandwiches.  We did not share.
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Finally, in the spirit of other readers who count plants as wildlife, here is a California poppy (Eschscholtzia californica) hanging out over the inlet where we saw that last otter, providing, I thought, a pleasingly simple background.
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  1. Posted May 5, 2016 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    These are wonderful. I’m playing catch-up but I want to thank all your contributors for their recent nature submissions.

  2. Posted May 5, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Lovely photos, great way to start the morning. Lucky you!

  3. W. Benson
    Posted May 5, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Rescue in Alberta:

  4. Alan Clark
    Posted May 5, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Eschscholtzia – what an amazing name!

  5. Posted May 5, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Amazing pics. I’ve been away from the blogsphere for a while, and ¡Man I enjoy your WEIT!

    BTW I’d love to share with you all a few pics of my locusts friends.

    Here’s a gallery.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted May 5, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Those are cool! Cheeky ‘hoppers. I think that some of them are using warning colors, so perhaps they taste bad.

  6. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted May 5, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Interesting to see that the clam eating otter seems to have brought several clams to the surface and is ‘storing’ them on its belly as it eats them in turn!

    • Joe dickinson
      Posted May 5, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Yes, holding food on the chest is pretty common. Even more interesting is a related tool use behavior. They often also bring up a stone and rest it on their chest to use as an anvil against which to pound and crack open shells.

  7. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted May 5, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Great pictures. Why is the seagull nipping at the antenna? Perhaps it is just wanting to play with something?

    • Joe Dickinson
      Posted May 5, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      I was guessing that he thought the little black knob on the tip of the antenna was edible.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted May 5, 2016 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        I wonder if the antenna makes a whistling noise, cutting thru the air. That might make a bird investigate it.

  8. Heather Hastie
    Posted May 5, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous pics Joe. Thanks so much. 🙂

  9. Posted May 5, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    The California poppy is lovely.

  10. ToddP
    Posted May 5, 2016 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful photos, Joe. Just fantastic.

    The Monterey Bay is a place very close to my heart (was born in Santa Cruz). It’s truly one of the most beautiful spots on the west coast.

    Thanks for sharing the pics!

  11. Mark R.
    Posted May 5, 2016 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Poppy is the California state flower, no? Lovely flowers.

    Great photos…I’ve been so busy lately, I am just lurking on WEIT, but had to write and say THANKS for the submission.

  12. Richard Portman
    Posted May 5, 2016 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Great photos. I love that part of the world. Inland, there is also Pinnacles NP and dont forget Punta Lobos!

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