Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kayaking the Elkhorn Slough

In August, we kayaked the Elkhorn Slough in honor of Regina's birthday. This is a brackish inlet from the Pacific Ocean in Moss Landing, about 15 miles south of Santa Cruz.

 We were warned to stay at least 100 feet away from the otters, but this proved impossible. Otters were everywhere.
 The other warning we received was to steer clear of this dock because a sea lion could jump off and easily tip over a kayak with its weight (these amazing animals can grow to 9 feet and up to 750 pounds).

We paddled up the slough: Martha admires the otters...

 Ivo makes it look easy...

 and Beth and Geoff demonstrate the importance of tandem paddling.

It felt good to have a posse on the water.

 There are a variety of birds on the slough. These pictures don't show how big these birds are.

Otters were everywhere during our visit--apparently there were a lot of young otters learning how to swim and feed. These otters are a threatened species.

California sea lions enjoy a shallow area in the slough.

As we began our return trip, we realized the importance of the instructions about tides and winds:
"The Slough's tides can give you a free ride back to your launch site, leave you stranded on a mudflat, or even wash you out to sea.... Strong afternoon winds, typically out of the northwest at 10 to 20 knots can be difficult to paddle against."

 We were braver on our second pass of the sea lion dock, and paused for a closer look.

We had a last view of an otter.

But apparently two pets is enough!

Looking forward to Regina's next birthday!