The annual Sea Otter Awareness Week is on the horizon September 22nd-28th. It is a great excuse to celebrate our furriest residents: the sea otters that call Morro Bay home. Learn fun sea otter facts, witness otters playing, and get to know their local habitat during Sea Otter Awareness Week activities! And then take your otter ecotourism trip to the next level with a nature tour or some environmental volunteering.
2019 SOAW activities:
During Sea Otter Awareness Week there will be two Sea Otter Outreach Stations in Morro Bay where volunteers will be available to help you spot the otters and answer all of your questions. Visit Target Rock, located in the Morro Rock parking lot, daily between 10 am and 2 pm or stop by the Morro Bay State Park Natural History Museum throughout the week. There will also be two formal, free, Sea Otter Savvy talks at the Museum on September 27th from 6:30-8 pm.
Quick Otter Facts:
1.) Otters are a keystone species. They keep sea urchins and other herbivores in check by eating 25% of their body weight in food every day. This in turn prevents kelp and seagrass from being overgrazed.
2.) Otters are both the smallest marine mammals in North America and the largest members of the weasel family.
3.) Did you know otters use tools? They are known for using a rock to crack open their food. And when not in use, they store the rock under their arm.
4.) Sea Otters have the thickest fur of any animal – up to 1 million hair follicles per square inch – which helps to keep them warm, dry, and afloat in the water.
5.) Morro Bay’s raft of otters is unique in that the majority are female. This means lots of pups throughout the year. Did you know that otter pup fur is so dense they can’t even dive under water until they get adult fur?
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Morro Bay provides a unique otter experience because of the multiple viewing locations where you can get close without causing any disturbance to the animals. For more information on the best places to observe the Morro Bay otters check out the map here.
Learn more about the bay and the estuary in which Morro Bay otters live with these ecotours:
Adventures with Nature – Central Coast State Park Association
These docent-led hikes, classes, and workshops out of Morro Bay State Park provide various programing throughout the year. Visit the event calendar for more information.
Kayak Eco Tour – Central Coast Outdoors
This guided tour explains the workings of the estuary by kayak. Birds and other animals will be identified, and you’ll get to explore Morro Bay’s most secluded beach – the Sandspit.
Paddleboard Nature Tour – Morro Bay Stand Up Paddleboarding
On this natural history tour, you will receive basic instruction on how to paddleboard, be introduced to marine life, and learn how to identify shorebirds, bat rays, and more!
Want to make a positive impact on the otters’ habitat? Try your hand at environmental volunteering. Join the Morro Bay Beautiful Litter Brigade and work to keep the waterfront and beach clean.
In addition to otters, there are so many other animals to experience in Morro Bay. Here is a quick list of what you can expect to find:
Morro Bay is home to a variety of land and water birds that can be observed year-round and during the annual Winter Bird Festival’s organized tours.
Just north of San Simeon, about 30 minutes from Morro Bay, is Piedras Blancas. January is the peak month for birthing but expect elephant seal excitement year-round.
Harbor Seals & Sea Lions
Harbor Seals and Sea Lions are present in the bay all year. Their “barking” makes them hard to miss, especially near the floating Sea Lion Dock in the bay.
Monarchs visit Morro Bay State Park every October-February and are a sight to be seen in the eucalyptus groves.
Whale are observed year-round in Morro Bay. The Humpbacks are best seen May through October and the California Grays visit December through April.