Morro Bay is my new favorite place in California! Tim, Becky, Kyra, Emily, and I visited our member organization Pacific Wildlife Care in Morro Bay last week. It was my first time to that area and I was enchanted with the beautiful coast. We met several of their key personnel, including Jeannette, Marcelle, Virginia, and the president of their board, Dave. They are in the middle of baby season, so the place was hopping!
After hearing about the organization’s history from Dave, we got a tour of the facilities and met a pelican who hangs out on the roof. We saw their new pelagic pool (complete with a western grebe!) and their nice large pelican aviary with its state-of-the-art UV disinfection system. Their facility may be small, but their people are ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice in the case of a spill! They are a gung-ho group and we really appreciated their enthusiasm.
I looked at some animals for them, mostly juvenile crows and hawks, and then Marcelle took us on a little tour of the harbor, where we saw three sea otter moms and pups cavorting in the kelp. It was really exciting to see them so close. Then we walked through the cute little town and had lunch, and were joined by Mike from the Department of Fish and Game and Lisa from the Marine Mammal Center. I really felt like we were part of a network when we were sitting at lunch and chatting with folks from three different organizations — four if you include Davis!
On our way down to Morro Bay we stopped at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and met with Karl Mayer, who is head of the sea otter rehab and research program. He gave us a fabulous behind-the-scenes tour, and even dressed up in disguise for a photo op!
The sea otter pups that strand often need to be groomed by their caretakers for hours a day to keep their haircoats in good condition. This pup is scheduled to be paired with a surrogate mom, who will do a much better job grooming her, but until she is ready to be introduced, humans have to step in. The Darth Vadar disguise prevents the pups from thinking that humans are good things to approach and hang out with. After all, the goal is for the pup to be released and join the wild sea otter population, and wild sea otters don’t get their dinner from humans.
Overall, we had a great trip that was more than worth the long drive!