Aquatic animal ID

A lot of field herpers seem to go fishing, or maintain aquariums, as much as they do herp! Any and all things fish are welcome in this forum.

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jonathan
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Aquatic animal ID

Post by jonathan » September 11th, 2016, 10:00 pm

Monterey Bay

Image



In black-and-white to creepify:

Image



That's my aunt and uncle in the kayak. Mom took the picture. She claims she didn't even see it until she looked at the photo...which is hard to believe unless you know my mom. I don't think she has the photoshop skills to fake it. :lol:

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » September 11th, 2016, 10:52 pm

Whale shark?

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Fieldnotes
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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by Fieldnotes » September 11th, 2016, 11:48 pm

hmmm, Mola mola comes to mind.

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jonathan
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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by jonathan » September 11th, 2016, 11:59 pm

Fieldnotes wrote:hmmm, Mola mola comes to mind.


Yes, that immediately came to mind for me too, simply because I know they're in Monterey Bay and I know they're funny-looking. I don't actually know what their profile above the water looks like though.

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rpecora
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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by rpecora » September 25th, 2016, 10:02 pm

Mola Mola doesn't seem right. Looks more Mammalia to me.

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » September 25th, 2016, 11:12 pm

Mola mola has a 'sharper' spine (upper surface). If that's indeed the dorsal surface we're looking at. Mammal may be a good bet...

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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by VICtort » January 4th, 2017, 9:56 pm

Mola mola unlikely, the dorsum I think is too broad and dorsal is falcate, not straight. I think mammal, but not sure which, I saw the same or similar from the beach at Santa Cruz December 26, 2016.

Whale shark unlikely and the dorsal fin too falcate, whale sharks unlikely in the relatively cool waters of Monterey Bay, although Basking sharks do show up especially in the summer.

Maybe someone with a good marine mammal reference can help us narrow it down?

When I observed them from the beach, they were near kayaks, I wonder if I saw your family?

Vic Herrick

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Curtis Hart
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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by Curtis Hart » March 6th, 2017, 2:19 pm

How about a Harbor Seal on it's side with the flipper vertical?That would explain the spots too.

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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by craigb » March 7th, 2017, 7:36 am

I agree with Harbor Seal, swimming towards the camera. Not much else is that "chunky", and they are playful around people. It was probably checking them out for fishing bait. Lots of folks in kayaks fish the bay there. There are plenty of otters there also.

craigb 8-)

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jonathan
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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by jonathan » March 7th, 2017, 11:55 am

Nice insights! Perhaps we finally have a good candidate?

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rpecora
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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by rpecora » March 19th, 2017, 8:51 pm

No way that's a harbor seal.
The thing that gets me about this creature is the separation from body to fin. It's a funny angle to be sure but there is something about it that doesn't make sense, otherwise I would go with Orca. If that is a dorsal fin that would be the only animal I can think.
The other thing is if it surfaced to breath there would be no missing that sound. I would imagine it would have startled them.
Other than that the only other thing I can think of is Big Eye Tuna or the like.

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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by JAMAUGHN » March 19th, 2017, 9:57 pm

Jonathan, do you know how far out in the Bay they were, and where they canoed out from, ie Santa Cruz, Monterey, or Moss Landing? My guess is the fin is the foreflipper of a California Sea Lion, and the spots are bits of water. I think the seal lion is doing a corkscrew dive, checking out the canoes. If this is a cetacean, the only likely candidates in the bay are Orca or a young Risso's Dolphin. I find it pretty unlikely either would surface just once, and no one would ever notice, or that either would be alone. Adult male orca sometimes travel alone, but... they have a six foot dorsal fin. I'm not seeing that. So, my guess is pinniped, mostly likely CA Sea Lion, or some sort of fish, perhaps a Mola at a funny angle, starting to flop over, as Mola are apt to do at the surface.

JimM

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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by JAMAUGHN » March 20th, 2017, 3:16 pm

Bottlenose Dolphins would be the most likely dolphin species to be viewable from the beach , and they are very common close to Monterey Bay beaches. I usually see them every fourth or fifth trip to the beach. This doesn't look right for Tursiops, though. The position of the "fin" seems odd. Still, it's another possibility if the the kayakers were near shore.

JimM

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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by jonathan » March 21st, 2017, 8:45 pm

JAMAUGHN wrote:Jonathan, do you know how far out in the Bay they were, and where they canoed out from, ie Santa Cruz, Monterey, or Moss Landing? My guess is the fin is the foreflipper of a California Sea Lion, and the spots are bits of water. I think the seal lion is doing a corkscrew dive, checking out the canoes. If this is a cetacean, the only likely candidates in the bay are Orca or a young Risso's Dolphin. I find it pretty unlikely either would surface just once, and no one would ever notice, or that either would be alone. Adult male orca sometimes travel alone, but... they have a six foot dorsal fin. I'm not seeing that. So, my guess is pinniped, mostly likely CA Sea Lion, or some sort of fish, perhaps a Mola at a funny angle, starting to flop over, as Mola are apt to do at the surface.

JimM

They were out in Monterey Bay between Pacific Grove Beach and Cannery Row, a few hundred yards out just beyond the kelp line.


My dad, who wasn't there and hasn't seen this thread, told me that he thinks it was a seal's flipper.

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rpecora
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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by rpecora » March 23rd, 2017, 7:57 pm

Sea Lion most likely.

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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by craigb » March 24th, 2017, 6:51 am

Well, Sea Lions are more like dogs and much more agile in the water. Harbor seals are much fatter and not as agile at turning in the water. Harbor Seals are also spotted, slower moving, and do more rolling in the water as opposed to turning their whole bodies at angles. Actually the tail flippers closest to the kayak fit exactly with a Harbor Seal. Harbor seals are pretty common on the Pacific Coast. I have seen them while on fishing boats from San Diego to Eureka. They find a way to hop out and lay on navigational buoys.

Also see: https://www.nps.gov/redw/learn/nature/t ... -lions.htm

Just my 2 cents

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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by JAMAUGHN » March 24th, 2017, 7:30 am

I agree with everything you're saying here, Craig, and it could well be a Harbor Seal. My only reason for preferring the Sea Lion ID is the length of the foreflipper. It just seems a little long for a Harbor Seal. Also, I've noticed that when Harbor Seals do that kind of jump-n'roll, they tend to tuck their foreflippers into their bodies, while Sea Lions stick them out. This isn't a hard and fast rule, though. For the record, I'm not seeing the tail flippers you're referring to. Either way, I think we're looking at a pinniped, here.

JimM

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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by JAMAUGHN » March 24th, 2017, 7:33 am

Oh, and I should mention that at the spot Jonathan describes, both species, Harbor Seal and Sea Lion, are ridiculously abundant.

JimM

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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by craigb » March 24th, 2017, 8:24 am

So, yep it's a photographic enigma....
I agree the top flipper seems long, but the two blobs at the far end on the sides of the animal to me resemble the powerful tail flippers of a Harbor seal.

I bet it did scare the folks that never knew it was there. I wish they had seen it, it was trying to wave and say "Hi". :beer: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

craig :thumb:

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rpecora
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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by rpecora » March 24th, 2017, 9:49 pm

The long flipper is why I settled on Sea Lion also.

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Re: Aquatic animal ID

Post by DRDAN » April 11th, 2019, 4:03 pm

Definitely not a whale shark and molas bask horizontally when at the surface to thermo regulate. I’d say you have a pinniped with 99% certainty.

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