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  • Approved for CNN

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    Posted July 22, 2014 by
    ecotraveler
    Location
    Monterey, California
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel snapshots: Best bird-watching

    More from ecotraveler

    Why Are These Tourists Scrambling For Their Cameras

     

    California is known for it's beautiful rocky coasts, but there was clearly more to see here than the Brown Pelican and a few seagulls gliding over just another huge rock protruding out of the water.
    It was New Years day, 2013 and I'd driven south along the California coast for a picnic. Since there was a safe place to pull over, I decided to stop at this beautiful location and then try to capture some west coast wildlife with my camera.
    As I was admiring this beautifully jagged scene, unlike the smooth sandy beaches I'm used to on the east coast, I thought I caught a glimpse of movement. The rock where everyone was staring seemed to be vibrating as the light shifted and the suns rays darted in and out of the clouds, casting dark and light colors.
    As I made my way down the rocks toward the water to get a closer look on foot, something raised its head into the deep blue sky, showing me the unmistakable silhouette of a Seal or a Sea Lion.
    On closer inspection, I discovered the rock was crawling with expertly camouflaged animals in varying sizes and shades of brown and grey. Literally.

    There appeared to be both sea lions and seals, happily cohabitating the rock.

    Safe from predators and tourists so far out in the ocean, they moved only occasionally to vie for a better spot and slip in and out of the water. They used the rocks steep sides and their shape shifting blubbery bodies, to slide into and then with a kick of their back flippers, out of the water surrounding their respite.

    This area is known for its popularity to sea lions and seals (both Pinnipeds).  Pelicans, large Herring Gulls, and the smaller Ring Billed Gulls routinely fly and fish together both on and off the coast.
    Egrets seemed to prefer landing on the rocks in the shallower water closer to shore, rather than taking their chances scaling the steep sides on this massive boulder.
    Seagulls flew on and off the rock, tiptoeing among the many large bodies to find their own sunny spot and Cormorants came and went, visiting only for a short time to dry their wings and dive under the waves for food.
    The tide began to come in as they soaked up the sun but they were oblivious to the increasingly higher waves that began to crash on the rock closer and closer to them.
    As for me, I cancelled the rest of my day to watch this spectacular sight and the enchanted faces of tourists that continually gathered along the shore.

    For more information, visit:  >www.montereybaywhalewatch.com; www.montereybay.noaa.gov

    PHOTOS 

    1 A seagull flies out toward the rock, while others gather on the bank, looking for food from tourists

    2 An egret suddenly hops onto the rocks, when waves disrupt his foraging in the water

    3 The popular rock is far enough from the coast to protect the seals and sea lions from other animals, including humans.

    4 A  Pelican and seagull fly over the rock, while other gulls compete for suitable spots on the rock.

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