Friday, January 4, 2013

A day in the Santa Barbara Channel

Today's photos are from the Santa Barbara Channel on December 14. It was an overcast day, but a really nice, calm day. The highlight of the day was seeing a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) eat a pretty big lunch. There has been a little debate over what species this adult male sea lion is eating, but I am going to say it is a Pacific angel shark (Squatina californica). Angel sharks look a lot like rays, and when I first saw the shark I thought it was some sort of ray or skate. It wasn't until I looked at the photos on my computer that I determined that it was an angel shark. I am open to debate about the species, but remember I have a whole series of photos that show different features of the fish whereas I only posted the photos that I liked the best aesthetically.
California sea lion with a mouthful of Pacific angel shark
California sea lion with a Pacific angel shark

 The next photo is a male sea otter (Enhydra lutris) east of Point Conception.

The last photo for the day is my favorite (always save the best for last, right?). These are surf scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) flying with the Channel Islands (Santa Cruz Island, I believe) in the background. Surf scoters look like the clowns of the sea. I have a few close up shots from last weekend that I will be posting soon where you can really see their clown-like features. In this shot, the female is leading the way for the males. I'll let you make your own opinions about that!
Surf scoters taking flight