During a hiking trip out to California’s central coast, one might be surprised at the amount of wildlife that thrives right out in the open and in the strangest of places.  Avila Beach, a mere 160 miles from Los Angeles, provides many of these kinds of surprises (and videos).  Surrounded by gentle green sloping hills, and sporting three seaside piers, two of which are public, this small beach town surprised me with an abundance of sea birds, sea lions, and yes, sea otters.

Sea Otters, at least for me, have been notoriously hard to spot, and after shooting this video I can see why that might be.  They lay low to the water and sometimes appear to be low rollers (waves).  On top of that, they actually look like other mammals (this guy looked like a sea lion until I got unbelievably close.)  It doesn’t help that these animals are still an endangered species, their population two-thirds of what they used to be.  Hunted for their furs to near extinction levels, their numbers have increased due to conservation and wildlife protection.

However, populations in California are still well below there former levels.  A survey in 2007, counted around 3,000 otters, whereas their original population is estimated to be 16,000.  Efforts to repopulate coastal zones, especially in Southern California, have not gone well and current populations, centered from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, all originate from a group of only 50 individuals.

If you happen to see a sea otter, consider yourself blessed by the otter gods!  How can you to find them?   First of all, Sea Otters like to dive down to the ocean floor and forage for invertebrates such as sea urchins, various mollusks, and crustaceans.  Look for dark shapes floating and diving periodically.  Keep in mind that even though they can walk on land, these creatures spend most of their time in the water, so don’t expect to see them lounging on a rock!

For those of you looking to grab a video of a sea otter, make sure you take a long lens.  These guys tend to float a little ways off, so you’ll need a longer lens to get a really great shot.

All in all these are really amazing creatures and we need to continue to nurture and conserve their species for future generations.  I was lucky to get this video at all, and I can thank organizations such as The Defends of Wildlife and The Monterey Bay Aquarium for their efforts to protect this animal.

“Everything More” sung by Skyler Stonestreet.  You can purchse her music on Amazon or itunes.