Everything Eats: Humpback Whales in the Monterey Bay

Everything Eats: Humpback Whales in the Monterey Bay

This is a humpback whale, lunge feeding less than 20 yards from shore near New Brighton State Beach in Santa Cruz County. The humpbacks showed up a month or so ago, following massive schools of anchovies into the Monterey Bay. I used to get a thrill seeing far-distant spouts from the beach. NEVER did I think whales would show up a stone’s throw away.

Sooty shearwaters feeding in the surf (everything eats)

Sooty shearwaters feeding in the surf (everything eats)

Each summer flocks of sooty shearwaters fly low over the Monterey Bay, diving and squawking as they feed on masses of bait fish – anchovies, sardines, squid, and krill – that school just below the water’s glistening surface. You see them coming in the distance, an impressive mass a mile or more in length; thousands of birds flying low over the water forming a cacophony of feathered missiles plunging headfirst for food.

Bluejay bites off more than he can chew (everything eats)

Bluejay bites off more than he can chew (everything eats)

LL and I were picnicking on the deck of our quite luxurious digs at the Post Ranch Inn when this bird – a juvenile Western scrub-jay, according to my handy Sibley Field Guide – swooped down to snag a piece of baguette for himself. Check it out.

Old school backyard foodie: Oysters Rockefeller

Old school backyard foodie: Oysters Rockefeller

The oysters smelled like the air on still, foggy mornings when the tide is low and kelp is heaped on the sand and the only footprints are from marauding nighttime snails – an ancient smell of brine and salty tears.

Who figured out a beaver’s behind tastes like raspberry?

Who figured out a beaver’s behind tastes like raspberry?

By now you may have heard, thanks to Jamie Oliver and Dr. Oz, that castoreum is a natural flavor behind some of the products we consume. I use the word “behind” literally, since castoreum is the product of a beaver’s anal glands. Castoreum is totally unique, chemically speaking, to the beaver – not to be confused with that stinky defensive spray that comes from a skunk’s anal glands, or reason dogs walk in circles sniffing each other’s rear ends. Same place, different thing. Urban myth or no?

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