wild otters

if you’ve never seen one before

deer are smaller than you think

raccoons are bigger than you think

bears are smaller than you think but you were pretty close

otters are bigger than you think no even bigger than that

wolves are bigger than you think

wild cats are smaller than you think but hopefully you’ll never see one

chipmunks are smaller than you think

so are mice but you’ve seen a mouse right

you were right about the size of moose, mostly

pigs are bigger than you think

coyotes are that size

so are foxes

woops bears are bigger than you think but only that one type

this is an informational post about mammals if you know more please do tell

One of nature’s most social and playful creatures, river otters have big personalities and even bigger appetites. Often seen in groups, they can be observed hunting and frolicking year round at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri. In winter, you might even catch them sliding across the ice on their bellies. Photo courtesy of Kenny Bahr.

I’ve successfully sat down to write SIXTY days in a row! Slowly but surely writing my novel. The Scrivener App on my iPad makes such a difference, and the word tracker is both helpful and aesthetically pleasing. 

11 US road trips you should add to your bucket list

With such vast and varied landscapes in the US, the only way to cover a variety of them is by car. Enjoy the stunning scenery of the iconic Route 66, marvel at the Tail of the Dragon Highway and cruise through the great US of A.

Route 66

Known as the Mother Road of America, Route 66 journeys for more than 2,000 miles of pure Americana. This historic route, built in the 1920s, travels from Chicago Illinois to Los Angeles California and crosses the states of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. See the heart and soul of the country from your car window and explore beautiful beaches in Santa Monica, the expansive Grand Canyon and the delicious restaurants that are all situated along this route.

California’s Pacific Coast Highway

The twisting, cliff-hugging route of the Pacific Coast Highway runs 458 miles along the central California coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles and is one of the most exhilarating road trips in the US. It takes around six hours to drive from start to finish. While a portion of the Big Sur Highway is currently closed, you can still get a taste by driving down the coastal road as far as Point Lobos Natural Reserve, where adorable wild sea otters sometimes frolic. Doubling back and take Highway 101 inland for sensational winetasting in the Salinas Valley before rejoining the ocean road at Cambria.

Overseas Highway

Get ready for beautiful scenery overload on the Overseas Highway. The Highway 1 route from mainland Florida to Key West travels for 113 miles past expansive turquoise waters dotted with distant sandy islands. The concrete stretches of this magnificent route are punctuated by classic American gift shops and burger stands serving up cholesterol-bursting milkshakes to break up the long journey.

State Route 12

Also known as Scenic Byway 12, it’s frequently regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the world. State Route 12 winds from west to east for 122 miles, located in the Garfield and Wayne Counties of Utah. The highway starts south of Panguitch, passing through part of the Dixie National Forest, and going over the Escalante River. With its limestone network of turrets and spires, the natural cathedral that is the Red Canyon is also along Route 12, which eventually ends in Torrey, just five miles from Capitol Reef National Park. Driving past retro, rusty signs and baron lands, this route is the perfect trip through time back to old America.

Kancamagus Highway

Now designated as an American Scenic Byway, the 34.5 mile long Kancamagus Highway in Northern New Hampshire will not disappoint. Venture through the epic White Mountain National Forest, with views of the Swift River, Sabbaday Falls and Rocky George. Drive Kancumagus in Autumn time and see New England Fall in all its orange and red glory – the highway passes some of the best views of New Hampshire’s famous Fall foliage.

Beartooth Highway

Positioned 10,947 feet above sea level, near to the magnificent Yellowstone National Park, it’s unsurprising Beartooth Highway is frequently described as the most beautiful drive in America. Located on a section of U.S. Route 212 in Montana and Wyoming, Beartooth cuts through the Custer and Shoshone national forests, and it’s the stunning greenery of these woodlands that makes this route so special. The pass is usually only open from mid-May to mid-October due to the heavy snowfall in the winter months.

Delaware Water Gap Road Trip

Take a road trip along the Delaware River. The surrounding 67,000-acre forest at the National Recreation Centre is full of flowing waterfalls that deliver the ultimate scenic route. But it’s the Delaware Water Gap, a deep cleft carved by the river into the solid surrounding rock, which is undisputedly the most beautiful sight of this drive. The route round this beauty spot stretches for 35-miles south on the I-84 freeway in Oregon, Utah.

Route 6

Based in the heart of the magnificent Massachusetts state, Route 6 connects Rhode Island to Fall River, New Bedford and Cape Cod. Also known as the Mid-Cape Highway, Route 6 takes you all the way to California and runs 3,652 miles long and is the longest contiguous transcontinental route in the USA jutting across fourteen states.

Tail of the Dragon

Bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest, the Tail of the Dragon route has no intersecting roads or driveways to distract your travel. It’s just you and the open road. With 318 curving roads, totaling 11 miles, the Tail of the Dragon is America’s number one motorcycle and sports car road. Hire the sports car of your dreams and cruise down the famous open roads for as long as your heart desires.

Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway

Journeying through Utah and Colorado for 512 miles, the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway forms a diamond shape with the four highest points at Moab, Helper, Vernal and Grand Junction, which include some of the best National Parks in the country. With the Dinosaur National Monument, the Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado National Monument all on this route, this trip offers a stunning prehistoric adventure through time.  

The Blues Highway

Starting in ‘Music City’ Nashville, traversing through birthplace of rock and roll, Memphis, blues haven Mississippi and the cradle of jazz, New Orleans, this 630-mile journey traverses rural, romantic roads straight through the heart of the Deep South. As well as classic vinyl shops and stellar Southern cuisine you’ll find the funkiest soundtrack in the States; from jazz in NOLA’s hip Bywater area to the harmonica-strains of up-and-coming talent in Memphis’ juke joints.

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Plan your next US road trip

Photo by Roman Romanenko on Unsplash

Furry, feisty, paw-erful—Otter Girl! Today in Sea Otter Awareness Week, meet Ivy!

Ivy was found stranded in November 2011 as a two-week-old pup on Cayucos State Beach. She was cared for by Sea Otter Program staff for seven weeks, and then introduced to Toola—the Aquarium’s first and most experienced surrogate mother at the time. Sadly, due to a number of factors, Ivy couldn’t be released to the wild, and was declared non-releasable by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Ivy joined our sea otter exhibit in December 2012 at just over one year old, and is now an accomplished surrogate mother to pups behind the scenes. She’s one of the younger otters on exhibit, and was dubbed “wild child” by Aquarium staff because of her liveliness during training.

Ivy is named after a character in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Thanks for all of your otterly pawesome work for sea otters, Ivy!

Furry, feisty, paw-erful—Otter Girl! This Sea Otter Awareness Week, let’s meet the resident female sea otters at the heart of our Sea Otter Program!

Meet Rosa! At 18 years of age, she’s our oldest sea otter—and also our blondest! Quick aside: the grizzling of sea otters doesn’t have much to do with age—you can see from her pup photo that she was born blonde!

Rosa was found stranded as a four-week-old pup in north Monterey Bay in September 1999. She weighed just over five pounds at the time! In April 2000 she was released back to the wild, where she spent nearly two years as a wild sea otter—but unfortunately she began interacting with divers and climbing onto kayaks. Because of the potential risks to Rosa and people, federal wildlife officials declared her non-releasable, and we welcomed her back to the Aquarium as a permanent resident in June 2002.

During her years at the Aquarium she’s put her maternal instincts to work—she’s reared more pups than any other active surrogate mother!Rosa gets her name from a character in John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat—the first of the author’s novels set on Cannery Row. Thanks for all of your hard work and years of service to your species, Rosa!

Furry, feisty, paw-erful—Otter Girl! This amazing otter has quite the survival story—meet Selka!

Selka was found stranded in July of 2012 off Cayucos, California as a one-week-old pup. She was cared for at the Aquarium and released into the wild in June 2013. Unfortunately, eight weeks after release, she was found hauled out in Moss Landing Harbor with severe shark bite injuries. She underwent extensive surgery and recovery back at the Aquarium, and splashed back into the wild four months later.

After several months in the wild, Selka was brought back to the Aquarium due to concerns about her health and several interactions with people. She was declared non-releasable by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Selka spent the next two years at UC Santa Cruz’ Long Marine Lab, where she helped researchers understand how wild sea otters search for and acquire enough prey to survive in their ocean home.

Selka joined our exhibit in August of 2016. She’s clever, with an easy-going and inquisitive nature. Selka is our youngest otter and has the darkest fur of any of the otters at the Aquarium. Even at her young age, she’s already proven herself to be a successful surrogate mother. Check out this video of Selka raising her first pup!

Phew, what a story! Thanks for all you do for sea otters, Selka!