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The coast and its residents

Photo Credit: David Ohlman

As with the entire Pacific Coast, Orange County is blessed with some unique ecosystems including the Bolsa Chica wetlands (reopened with great applause to the ocean tides about seven years ago) and the Upper Newport Bay and Back Bay.

California sea lions are a common and entertaining sight along our shores and harbors. Whether putting on a show of swimming skills or just basking aboard the lonely moored boats bobbing in our harbors, sea lions seem quite comfortable in their role as one of Neptune’s ambassadors. Pelicans glide and swoop effortlessly before diving into the water for a meal, emerging with a wiggling fish in their bill’s pouch. The ever-ubiquitous sea gull and there are many versions spread out over land and sea, is both an entertaining flier and efficient predator. A nest of eggs left unattended by another bird species is an easy target for hungry gulls, and they are always hungry.

California gray whales in migration, orcas (killer whales) on the hunt (sometimes to ambush new-born gray whales), and dolphins with their knack for showing off with a leap out of the water, can be spotted from shore.  One needn’t be a marine biologist to explore below the ocean’s surface. As a sport or hobby, this is an immensely rewarding and visually stunning thing to do, especially if you take a camera with you. If you are planning to take your air supply with you, you will need to invest in formal training with a qualified diving instructor. But it’s all worth it. Kelp beds and reefs swarm with fish and sea mammals awaiting your arrival.

As you can see, Orange County is more than lattes, boats, surfing or golf. Southern California in general, and Orange County in particular, is home to a lavish collection of animal life, on land and sea, demanding our admiration, respect and protection in perpetuity. Love and appreciate them will all your heart. Just don’t crowd them to extinction.

About the Author

David Ohman is the former Editor and Creative Director for Coastkeeper Magazine. He is now living in Denver, Colo., where he works as a freelance photojournalist and feature writer.