Our local sloughs (pronounced slews) are precious coastal wetlands (once extensive along the California coast, now about only 10% remain). The largest is Elkhorn Slough (officially the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve). With partners, the Elkhorn Slough Foundation and other local individuals, groups and agencies, the Reserve protects about 1,700 acres (687 ha) of oak woodlands, tidal creeks and freshwater marshes.
Elkhorn Slough’s trails are great to walk, but I especially enjoy kayaking its waters. Each trip is amazing and unique, with varied weather, tidal changes and the comings and goings of wild residents and visitors.
I recently received as a birthday present a special “We Paddle, You Photo” tour with Kayak Connection, Brian, my guide, did the kayaking work, while I focused on the wildlife. The day was perfect — clear sky, calm water, low tide, no wind. I had a wonderfully lazy (for me) view of the slough.
Here are shots of the harbor seals and sea otters we spotted. (Note: I used a telephoto to take the shots. Kayakers and other boaters are required to stay far enough away from these protected marine mammals so that the animals don’t change their behaviors. That’s tough when a friendly joins the tour and disregards the regulations, as this young sea otter did.)
And check out the cute curls on this harbor seal’s whiskers. I’ve never seen that before.
Next the birds will get to show off.