West Coast Wildlife

I’ve just returned from an amazing week exploring the Northern California coast. I hope to write in a bit more detail about some of the places I visited, but the standout moments of the week all involved wildlife and I wanted to share those highlights first.

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Nothing prepares you for the sheer scale of the Giant Redwoods at Avenue of the Giants. They look pretty huge in the photographs with humans reduced to borrower-like figures, but the photographs just don’t do them justice. The smell, the stillness and cool of the atmosphere and the scale of the trees make a visit to the Giant Redwoods feel other-worldly.

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In awe of the Giant Redwoods; you can spot me if you look really closely

While staying on the Mendocino coast near Elk, we were visited by some deer who wandered unafraid around the quiet residential streets and gardens. We stayed in a wonderful Airbnb and also managed to spot some whales migrating up the coast (sadly I didn’t manage to photograph them).

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Wild deer on the Mendocino coast

Up until this trip, I’d only ever seen YouTube videos or photographs of otters, but suspected if I ever met them in real life they would be just as adorable. I’m pleased to confirm they are!

After a bite to eat in Moss Landing we were lucky to see two female sea otters in the estuary, both feasting on muscles. A volunteer from the Hopkins Marine Station was also in the area and was happy to tell us a little more about the otters and their habitat.

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Female Sea Otter at Moss Landing, California

The moment that really blew me away was witnessing a newborn seal pup receiving a first kiss from his Mum. There were tens of Harbor Seals nestled on the Hopkins Marine Station beach at Pacific Grove, some having already given birth to pups and many more preparing to.

Volunteers from the Hopkins Marine Station were again on hand to tell us more about the seal population, the pups and their development over the coming weeks.

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Seal pup at Pacific Grove
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Seal pup in the sand at Hopkins Marine Station Beach

We traveled the California coast in April, which felt like the ideal time to see newborn seal pups, spring blooms and other wildlife. I will definitely return to Monterey/Pacific Grove where the harbor seal population is concentrated to see their progress. I also hope to see lots more wildlife on upcoming visits to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks!

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Harbor Seals at Hopkins Marine Station beach

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