Monday, February 21, 2011

Kayaking in the Elkhorn Slough

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One of my favorite memories from my first trip to Big Sur when I was 6-years-old was kayaking in Monterey with the sea otters. My whole family went and my sister and I fought over who got to be in the kayak with my dad because we thought he would be the better paddler. After a fun couple of hours we headed back to the beach and my sister and mom rowed back in safe and sound. My dad thought it would be a good idea to catch a wave back in and we flipped our kayak and I have forever made fun of him for it. Luckily this time we had no capsizing! There are a few different areas in Monterey to see the endangered sea otters and I suggest doing a little research before you go so you get the most out of your experience. I decided that the Elkhorn Slough area would be best and found a great company that offers photo excursions marketed as "We Paddle; You Photo." This was great for me because I was able to photograph the whole time and not have to worry about paddling or capsizing. I was paired with a really nice instructor who was a photographer as well- but was not pushy about how I should photograph, which happens a lot when a photographer is an instructor on an excursion like that and I HATE IT! He just got me to the right spots and knew the right angles and lighting to get the perfect shot. The company is called the Kayak Connection and I highly recommend them for photographers or just tourists looking to see some cool wildlife. The slough is a great spot for otters, seals, sea lions, and thousands of birds. However the sea otter is usually the main attraction. Historically the number of sea otters ranged in the hundred thousands possibly even over a million, but due to the fur trade numbers plummeted to below 2000 in the early 1990's. The species is slowly recovering and there are now an estimated 2,800 southern sea otters off the coast of California and another 70,000 northern sea otters off the coast of Alaska, Washington and Canada. There are also about 15,000 living in Russia and a very small number (less than 12) living in Japan. The sea otter is considered endangered by the IUCN. To learn more and see how you can help check out Friends of the Sea Otter.
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