A Megapod of Common Dolphins

This gallery contains 17 photos.

A few weeks ago, I went whale watching off of Mission Bay in San Diego. We went through a company called San Diego Whale Watch, which offers year round whale watching. They guarantee that you will see a whale or dolphin. If you don’t see either, you get to go again for free. If you […]

Dolphins in San Diego

A Dolphin at Sea World

America’s Finest City attracts tourists from all over the world for many different reasons. One of the reasons it attracted me was the animal life at the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and the Wild Animal Park. When I first moved here, I bought a year pass to all three parks. Sea World quickly became my favorite park to visit due to the orcas, dolphins, belugas, sea turtles and other marine life. The park even offers a Dolphin Interaction Program, where you can touch, feed, and learn hand signals to communicate with the dolphins. I found myself fascinating with Sea World. However, many locals and tourists do not share the same appreciation for the park due to the lack of space a tank provides in comparison to the vastness of the ocean. Years later, I am beginning to understand why.

A trainer feeding a dolphin at SeaWorld

A trainer feeding a dolphin at SeaWorld

I have recently ventured back into the art of surfing. I have found that every surfing day at a San Diego beach has come with a unique surprise. Whether it is the intensity of the waves, a helicopter circling from above, stingrays swimming below you, a wall of seaweed, catching a crisp wave, or even the rare appearance of a pod of wild dolphins.

Today, I saw dolphins swimming in the ocean in front of me, I was stunned, I don’t know why, but I didn’t really believe it. When I looked around at the people around me, they looked as shocked as I felt. They didn’t swim up to me like at Sea World or in the movies, they just swam along by and you could hear them breathing through their blowholes. At that moment, it just made sense. The ocean is where they belong. That is where they are meant to be. I still enjoy SeaWorld, but I finally see the limits of captivity.

Contentment Among Giants

Paul Bunyan and Babe

I was given the opportunity to live to live in Northern California last year, which was a HUGE change from the hectic SoCal lifestyle that I had become accustomed to. I had taken for granted all of the restaurants, concerts, malls, and random events that were continually occurring in San Diego. Even with work and school, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Knowing that I would only be living there for a year, I decided that I would explore the area as much as I could. To my surprise, what I discovered is what I miss the most.

I began taking hikes amidst giant redwood trees and felt as if all of my troubles had simply melted away. I guess you could say, I had found my happy place. Walking in a redwood forest is like no other experience you will ever have. As you enter the forest, the air is crisp and a calming stillness floats over you. Leafy ferns, vibrant clovers sprinkled with dewdrops, and pliable redwood needles coat the forest floor. You walk deeper in the grove and can’t help but arch your head back and gaze in wonder at the 200 ft red giants surrounding you. You notice the grooves on the bark and even a few burls on a few trees. The truly amazing thing is that these trees are ALIVE and some of them have been alive for more than 2,000 years. I can’t even fathom being alive that long, but I am thankful that they are. I wish that one day, you will find yourself among these red giants and feel the peace and contentment that I found there.

If you ever find yourself along the coast of Northern California in Humboldt County and would like see redwood trees for yourself, I would recommend visiting these places…

1.    Redwood National Forest (http://www.redwoods.info/showrecord.asp?id=475&source=Favorites)
Contains half of the old growth redwoods including trees that are five stories taller than the Statue of Liberty.

Avenue Of The Giants

Avenue Of The Giants (Wikipedia)

2. Avenue of the Giants (http://www.aveofthegiants.com/)
This is a 31 mile scenic drive that takes you through 51,222 acres of redwood groves.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove

Lady Bird Johnson Grove

3. Lady Bird Johnson Grove (http://redwoods.info/showrecord.asp?id=1696)
An impressive old growth redwood forest that was named after Lady Bird Johnson.

4.    Founder’s Grove (http://www.redwoodhikes.com/Humboldt/Founders.html)
The most popular redwood grove in Humboldt County.

5.    Shrine Drive Thru Tree (http://www.redwoods.info/showrecord.asp?id=3947)
Drive your car through a redwood tree.

Headwaters Forest Reserve

Headwaters Forest Reserve

6.    Headwaters Forest Reserve (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headwaters_Forest_Reserve)
An eleven mile trail that details the history of logging in the area. Salmon can be seen spawning in the river during part of the year.

Trees of Mystery

The Sky Trail at the Trees of Mystery

Trees of Mystery (http://www.treesofmystery.net)
A nature attraction that features gondola rides high up into the redwoods and features giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.


Night Hiking and Rattlesnakes

Night Hiking and Rattlesnakes

It’s been so hot in San Diego this summer that the last thing that I want to do is go for a hike in the middle of the day. Since I am not a morning person…at all…mornings are simply out of the question. So I’ve been waiting until evening and sometimes until after dark when the air has cooled down. It is surprisingly peaceful hiking at night and so much cooler! A few days ago, I decided to hike a popular hiking trail in San Diego called Cowles Mountain, which has a 1,593 ft summit. The summit reveals a 360-degree view of San Diego and you can even see as far as Mexico. This trail is always swarming with hikers and runners. During the day, the hundreds of hikers mimic worker ants marching in an ant farm. At night, the flickering of flashlights remind me of lightning bugs dancing on the black silhouette of a mountain.

I started the ascent at about 9:00 pm, carrying a water bottle, keys, and my cell phone. I ran into a handful of people on my way up, surprisingly most of them were walking in the dark without a flashlight. I thought that they must have lost track of time. The night air was shockingly warm as I arrived at the summit. The view was stunning at night with city lights surrounding the mountain. I looked out and could see skyscrapers downtown and even the famous Coronado Bridge lit up. The horizon line had a slight orange glow from all of the light pollution and the stars…well you don’t live in San Diego for the stars. All I could hear was a neighborhood dog howling and the occasional car passing below. As I started my descent, I saw the silhouette of a bat twirling in the air as if he was an aircraft at a Blue Angel Air Show. I passed a guy wearing a hoodie, who also did not have a flashlight and made a comment about him being brave in the darkness due to all of the rocks you could easily trip over. I continued down the trail with my beam from my flashlight bouncing off rocks and bushes. All of the sudden, I heard a rattle and a breathing noise. I immediately froze and in the middle of the trail there was a rattlesnake coiled up with its head out ready to strike approximately 2-3 ft away. Confused at the presence of a rattlesnake at 10:30 pm, I shined my light at it and it seemed to agitate it more. At that moment, I felt an overwhelming feeling of respect for the creature. So I slowly started walking backwards. There was a wooden guardrail on one side and dry bushes on the other side of the trail. Realizing there was no way for me to safely walk by the rattlesnake, I searched for a detour trail and safely found my way back down the mountain. I felt relieved and lucky but confused at the presence of the snake at the same time.  After researching and speaking with a friend who use to work for the Sequoia National Park, this is what I found out…

Why was a rattlesnake out on a main trail at 10:30 at night? I thought that rattlesnakes came out during the day to bask in the sun due to them being cold blooded?

As the weather gets hotter, snakes will be more nocturnal. So they’ll be less active during daylight, and more active at dusk, night and dawn.

What can I do to protect myself from being bit?

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Wear high top shoes/boots
  • Wear heavy-duty type pants if you can
  • Bring a good flashlight if hiking at night
  • Bring a walking stick
  • Stick to the main trail

If I had been bit, what should I have done?

  1. Remain calm so as not to increase circulation and thus the spread of the venom.
  2. Immediately remove anything from the body that may cause increased swelling below the bite area (i.e., rings, watch, shoes, tight clothing, etc.)
  3. If possible, wash the wound with soap and water. If available, a Sawyer Extractor Pump may be used to remove some of the venom. Be familiar with the procedure and instructions before you need to use it.
  4. Immobilize the bite area, keeping it in a neutral to below the heart position.
  5. Get to the hospital immediately. Do not wait for the pain to get severe. The use of approved antivenom is the most effective treatment for envenomation. If possible, have another person drive, and call ahead to the hospital and the poison center.

I thought you were supposed to make a cut and suck out the venom?

No! Do not make an incision or try to suck out the venom.

Swimming with Leopard Sharks

Female Leopard Sharks Swimming at La Jolla Shores

The word ‘shark’ makes me immediately think of the horror film “Jaws” with the gigantic great white shark maliciously searching for his next human meal. I can even hear the suspense music pulsating in waves in my head. If sharks really are evil malicious creatures, why would anybody in their right mind ever think about such an adventure?

Well, I decided to see for myself. I gathered up my snorkel gear and drove to La Jolla Shores. The day was oddly a little overcast for an August day in San Diego. I looked around and noticed a handful of individuals peacefully snorkeling as I entered the crash zone of the incoming wave. I quickly found myself floating in the ocean in four feet deep water with about ten feet of visibility. Within a few minutes, a five foot leopard shark swam into my frame of view. I must have held my breath as I could feel my heart starting to pump a little quicker. I watched in awe as this spotted creature peaceful swam with her tail swaying back and forth. I quickly realized that this docile creature was not about to harm me, in fact she seemed a little scared of me. Within five minutes, I was surrounded by between 30-40 leopard sharks. A part of me felt a little wary due to the conditioning I have heard about sharks on tv and movies all of my life, but a larger part of me felt shockingly connected to these animals as I snorkeled around in the salty ocean water. I felt incredibly grateful and lucky to experience this.

If you find yourself in San Diego during June-October, I highly recommend swimming or kayaking with these peaceful sharks. Leopard sharks are not aggressive to humans as they have small teeth and eat small bottom dwelling invertebrates. They can grow to be up to 5-6 feet long and have a great sense of smell and hearing. Just the sound of a snorkel being submerged with water is enough to scare them away. The sharks can be found in front of the Marine Room at La Jolla Shores. You can go out on your own or if you feel more comfortable, you can do a guided snorkeling or kayak tour with San Diego Bike & Kayak Tours.

Blogging for Fun

Hello! I am a 26 year old graphic designer who lives in San Diego, California. I started this blog to learn what blogging is really about and to learn a little more about myself. I don’t really know what direction this blog will take, but I’m sure I will soon find out. I enjoy adventure and seem to attract it in my daily life. Perhaps it will be about that? Perhaps it will develop into an artist blog or a tourist blog about San Diego? Perhaps it will feature my love for nature and animals? Perhaps it will form connections to strangers around the world? Whatever happens, get set because the ride is about to begin!