Carla Brennan's Blog

Reflections and Photos from The Big Trip and Beyond . .

A Pandemonium of Sea Otters

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A Pandemonium of Sea Otters
June 2020
Moss Landing, CA

A few months ago, earlier in the pandemic, I was exploring one of my favorite haunts, Moss Landing, CA. This area has several wonderful beaches, an expansive harbor, and it leads to a large tidal estuary, Elkhorn Slough. It doesn’t disappoint when it comes to sightings of shore birds and marine wildlife, although I never know exactly what I will see at each visit. Season, weather, tides and time of day all influence the appearance of the diverse ocean-loving creatures.

Not surprisingly, one of my favorite animals to see (and photograph) are the sea otters. Usually, however, they are not close to shore so I view them, lovingly, from afar. On this day, I stumbled on a raft of resting, grooming, squirming otters gathered in a kelp bed right next to the rock wall of the harbor entrance channel. What a delight! I could get within 20-30 feet of them and watch their behavior and shenanigans. It is interesting to note that despite appearances, otters are not social animals (except for moms and pups) but gather to find safety in numbers. A group of otters is officially called a raft, but I prefer my own term, a pandemonium of sea otters.

Below is a slide show of still photos and a video of otters in action (Warning: includes some graphic otter pooping!)

Please do not use photographs without permission. To inquire about permission contact Carla at:

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