This was the first thing I saw at the beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Ok, so it isn't exactly a new or exotic species, but since it is my very favorite bird, seeing a Great Blue Heron on the beach was a grand omen of good things to come!
It was indeed a good omen since the very next thing I noticed was some kind of creature floating in the seaweed. I hoped it was the creature I had come to see, the animal I was hoping would delight my son and daughter on their first trip to Carmel. Of course, it did turn out to be what I had hoped: a sea otter relaxing in a bed of kelp.
The fact that we were looking at an otter and not at a seal seems perfectly obvious in these photos. But it was less than obvious when looking with the naked eye or even with binoculars. There were a lot of mammals swimming about in the kelpy waters, and some of them appeared to be seals.
which he proceeded to enjoy with unabashed enthusiasm!
Although we stayed only a few minutes, Carmel-by-the-Sea was a cornucopia of new and wonderful sights!
Common Murres, uncommonly large Cormorants, Common Loons and even what I think must have been a Pacific Loon were among the wondrous sights we enjoyed in Carmel.
I'm not betting the farm on this being a Pacific Loon, but it very well could be one. I think. In any case, go to Carmel, CA if ever you get the chance to do so. It is a truly magical place!