view of the bay

Say hello to the second tallest mountain in America: Mount St. Elias in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve in Alaska. Standing over 18,000 feet tall, it towers over Icy Bay, which gets its name from the glaciers that run down Mount St. Elias’s slopes. It’s just one of the many amazing natural sights in America’s largest national park. Photo by Bryan Petrtyl, National Park Service.

Ernie Sisto (NY Times), Rare views of solar eclipse, 30/06/1954, Flying as a pool photographer with the American Airlines - Hayden Planetarium Eclipse Expedition, United States. Vintage silver print (Press Photo)

Here are two phases of rarely seen phenomena that occur during a total eclipse as seen from 13,000 feet this morning above Rupert House, James Bay, Canada. At top are Bailey’s Beads, when the light of the sun peeps through periphery “diamond ring” effect at end of totality.

Running inland from protective fjords, Three Saints Bay in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska looks like a calm lake on a still day. The refuge is home to a spectacular variety of landscapes and wildlife. With mountains, rivers, tundra, forests, wetlands and coastline, it’s like seeing all of Alaska on a single island. Photo by Robin Corcoran, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Curious Sea Otter Drains Monterey Bay

A sea otter floats outside of the Monterey Bay Aquarium with a large drain plug on its belly. Photo: AP—Aquarium Press

MONTEREY, CA — Monterey Bay Aquarium staff arriving to work early this morning were greeted with a shocking view: a fully drained Monterey Bay.

“Our first thought was: ‘Did we forget to the turn the pumps off last night?’” recalled systems operator Tara Lattrop. “But then we noticed our furry visitor.”

Indeed, floating in the Aquarium’s Great Tide Pool basin was a resting sea otter with what appeared to be the bay’s drain plug.

Satellite images of the water draining from the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon after its drain plug was pulled. Images: JPL — Just Pictures of Liquid

“We periodically drop the water level to do general maintenance on the bay’s rock-work,” stated local marine technician Tad Keng. “Looks like this particular otter decided to ignore the “Paws Off” sign.”

Though officials were initially skeptical that the otter had acted unassisted, and were investigating a guilty-looking dolphin, video surfaced from local diver Joseph Platco that pulled the plug on that theory.

“Divers use the drain plug as a way to navigate back from deeper dives,” Joseph explained. “Out of nowhere, this otter swoops in and takes off with the plug!”

Though he had to end his dive early because of lack of ocean, he was thrilled by the encounter. “I can legitimately say that was the most otterly pawesome dive I’ve ever done.”

But for many visitors expecting to spend the day with an ocean view, the otter’s antics were less appreciated.

“I’ve always said otters are glorified sea weasels, and this just proves it yet again,” said Red Abalowne, a Mendocino local visiting family in Monterey. “They’re not cuddly, that’s one little big lie. Their popularity is way overblown—leave it to an otter for this kind of shameless self-plug.”

“Sea otters need to eat about a quarter of their weight in food every day,” countered sea otter specialist Sendrine Hasan. “As a result, they’re very curious and dextrous—to a hungry otter, this was just plug and play.”

Despite the initial surprise, Aquarium staff took the event in stride.

“It’s another interpretive moment!” mused science interpreter James Kovel. “We’re having a unique opportunity to witness the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon, which is as deep as the Grand Canyon and usually covered by a mile of seawater.”

“Not only that,” he continued, “but this is a great visual representation of what the planet will look like when the global ocean vaporizes from the Sun’s inevitable expansion during the Apocalypse of the Solar System. Kids love this stuff.”

Guest experience supervisor Kirt MacKay and diver Patrik Anderson setting up to refill the bay from Aquarium storage. Photo: AP—Aquarium Press.

After trading the plug for a piece of kelp and plugging the bay back in, Aquarium staff started refilling the basin from their emergency seawater storage tanks. They expect Monterey Bay to be completely full by tomorrow, Sunday April 2.