Sunday, March 04, 2007

Pirates and Pups

We've been in San Diego for a few days now. We found an RV campground near the La Jolla exit off I-5 in between the Budweiser plant and a string of auto custom shops. It's a fairly convenient spot for access to the the La Jolla area where Mary Ann has been taking extensive photos of the harbor seal pups being born. She's also being caught up in the political drama.

The harbor seals have taken over a protected cove that had originally been constructed to be a swimming pool for children back in the 1930's. It silted in, the seals came, and now the community is split between the people who want the pool dredged out and returned to its original use (they probably have the law on their side) and the people who love the seals and want to keep this as a place where people can come watch them (probably have the majority). Personally, I want to just enjoy the seals and keep well out of the way of the politics.

Yesterday, we took a break from the seals and caught a nature excursion off to the Coronodo Islands, four rocky little islands off in Mexican waters. The attraction is the dolphins and whales in those waters, the seals and sea lions on the tiny isolated beaches, and the large numbers of birds that roost on those protected cliffs.

The captain also told stories of the islands, including pirates that were based there during the gold rush era, and the rum smuggling that was done in the prohibition years. He told a good yarn or two, but when he got down to pointing out the wildlife I had less confidence in his facts. Having just come from the elephant seal areas of San Simeon, I knew he was out of date on that species.

On the way back in, we encountered a pod of gray whales that were being attacked by dolphins. At least that's what it looked like. From my seat up front, I could hear the radio traffic between the whale water cruise ships that had all closed in to watch, and everyone was puzzled by the action. At one point a pair of the whales came right in front of the bow of the ship and the captain had to take the engine out of gear and hope for the best. It was a magical sight, seeing the two glide by just under the surface of the water.

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