A variety of wildlife can be found on or near the rocks that line the shore of Monterey Bay in Pacific Grove, California.
A Great Egret rested on top of the rock (in the middle of the previous photo), while three almost black Double-crested Cormorants also used the rock to dry off in between swims. Judging from all the white guano accumulating on top of the rock, it must be a very popular resting spot.
Brown Pelicans skimmed the surface of the water, using the energy of the wave movement to push them up.
One beach is appropriately marked Harbor Seal beach, and what do you know, there they are, napping in the late afternoon sun.
Who knew these Harbor Seals had such variable coat colors? Young ones are darker furred, but the mature adults vary from white to light gray to brown, with varied spots and splotches of darker fur.
Harbor Seals are the most common pinniped in the northern hemisphere, returning to their favorite beaches to rest and breed. This particular beach is part of the Hopkins marine reserve, fenced off to keep the public out, so the seals are quite often seen here. I held the camera up over the fence, pointed down, and hoped for the best when I took this shot.
Large populations of Harbor Seals congregate along the California coast in the winter to breed. (Photo of the Harbor Seal by Andreas Trepte, http://www.photo-nature.de)
How can you tell this is a seal and not a sea lion, you might ask? Seals do not have the outer ear pinna that sea lions have, and the rear flippers (legs) of seals point backward, while those of sea lions point forward.