Monterey Wharf #2 sea otter and pup photos

Over the weekend I saw a sea otter mom and her pup hanging out by Monterey Wharf #2.

Saturday was a late-spring day in Monterey with the weather temperature in the 60s and the fog evaporated by noon, providing refreshing marine air for thousands of visitors to the seashore on a day when the heat had risen to 90s in Silicon Valley. Weekend days like these bring thousands of cars to the Monterey Peninsula; most just stay for the day.

By 6pm tourists tend to be either at the restaurants or getting ready to go to restaurants, if they can afford to stay in Monterey and eat. I think the majority of visitors crowd the roads from Pebble Beach and Carmel and Pacific Grove onto the highways out of Monterey and then onto the freeways for the drive back to their valley homes inland from the seaside of Central Coast California.

Even in tourist season Monterey tends to quiet down quickly in the evening.

Monterey Wharf #2 is the commercial pier where ships unload freshly caught seafood as opposed to the nearby Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf with the restaurants and whale cruise tour boats. Fish wholesale and retail markets in warehouses at the end of wharf #2 sell the dead marine life to local restaurants and walk-in customers.


A small gathering of folks on the east side of the wharf with their heads leaning over the railing looking downward to the sea caught our attention. We never made it to our destination, the end of Monterey Wharf #2 to hear the barking sea lions underneath the pier.


Sea otters are voracious eaters.




This mama sea otter and pup were floating the wharf. Little guy stayed afloat while Mom repeatedly dived for mussels to feed them both.


Kelley commented how you won’t see this kind of activity at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is Monterey Bay’s natural wildlife show for free.

I keep repeating this over the past couple of months, but for all my years here in Monterey this was the most intense encounter I ever had with sea otters. This pair were about 20 feet below me on the Monterey Wharf #2.




I watched these sea otters for about 20 minutes. A lady beside me said the pup looked like it had doubled in size in the past week. He is a little tubby otter compared to mom who reveals a thin chest of ribs in several of my photos.


The entire time I watched these otters, their position only shifted about 10 yards in either direction beneath the wharf as the tide carried them back and forth. Little pup boy floated the entire time with his big paddle feet steering him in circles and mom continually made dives to bring up new mussels to eat.


That little pup floated beside the wharf eating mussel after mussel mom brought up to the ocean surface.


Where are you Mama?

Sea otters were hunted to near extinction over the past two centuries. The sea otter fur is the densest fur of any animal on the planet and was a profitable 18th and 19th century trading commodity.

A colony of about 50 sea otters survived near Big Sur, California until the 1930s and this raft of sea otters was used to reinhabit Monterey Bay in the 20th century. There are only about 2,000 otters living in the waters around Monterey County today.


The population of California sea otters is protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Monterey Bay is full of life and many marine mammals like sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters are easy to spot from the shoreline and wharves of Monterey and other coastal locations around the Monterey Peninsula.


Ric Garrido, owner and writer of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. How amazing, Ric! Thanks for sharing. TravelWhimsy and I have been to Monterey a few times to visit friends, and hopefully we will be there again for a quick visit at the end of the month. We drove the coast from Monterey to LA in December 2009, with my mom and sister, who came from Shanghai to visit. It was an unforgettable experience.

  2. Oh, don’t they look cute especially with their tiny human like arms. Needless to say, the pictures are absolutely amazing. I wish I had such a close encounter with sea otters. Thanks for sharing the lovely pictures though, it was certainly a delight.

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