Special Sighting: Morro Rock

Sightings from January 16 at Morro Rock and Morro Rock Beach in Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County, CA.

I have a sister on the sailing team at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo who always tells me stories of the sea otters she spots during their practices. During a visit to see her, I made my way out to Morro Rock to spot some otters for myself. Luckily for me, otters live in Morro Bay year round and are easy to spot from the shore.

As we walked along the path between the parking lot and Morro Rock, we spotted several otters in the channel. They floated on their backs, eating or cleaning themselves.

According to the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, at one point “sea otters were once hunted almost to extinction for their thick pelts….They were so scarce that they were thought to be extinct along the California Coast. However, one small group of otters survived along the coast of Big Sur; this group was first sighted in the 1930s. The otters that you see in Morro Bay today are descended from this population.”

Morro Rock is also an important nesting site for raptors. Read more about the amazing recovery of raptor populations in San Luis Obispo here. We spotted both osprey and peregrine falcons.

There were also a number of seabirds and shorebirds closer to the water.

On the other side of the rock, near Morro Rock Beach, we spotted a pelican in breeding plumage.

The wind and surf were high and we caught some surfers in action as well.