Category archives for: Natural La Jolla

Natural La Jolla: Sea stars are models of engineering, efficiency

Starfish are iconic animals of the sea, immediately recognizable by everyone. Although many insist that the proper term for these calcareous creatures is “sea star,” starfish is more commonly used. Starfish are Echinoderms (along with sea cucumbers and sea urchins) and many belong to the Class Asteroidea. There are hundreds of different species around the world in all kinds of habitats, but there are 3 or 4 commonly seen starfish in our area.

A tidepool curiosity is the giant keyhole limpet

A giant keyhole limpet with stripes moves along the seafloor. Jeremy W. Smith photos

As you look down on the rocky shoreline that leads to the water’s edge, it looks like an impossible habitat wherein life could survive. But upon further investigation, you will find there are many creatures living in between the cracks and under rocks clinging on for dear life.

Beautiful inflorescences of the foxtail agave in bloom

A large botanical family, the agaves (Agave spp.) have many uses and grow well in the dry areas of the Southwest and Mexico. The nectar produced from these beautiful plants has become very popular as a sugar and syrup substitute as it has a milder flavor than syrup but is sweeter than honey. The heart of the blue agave (Agave tequilana) is used to make tequila.

Natural La Jolla: They’re here! The gray whale migration is on

Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) undertake one of the most impressive migrations in the world — traveling from northern Alaskan and Russian waters to the warm lagoons of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico, and back again (10,000 to 14,000 miles).

The ultimate glider: Pelicans fascinate as they drift past

Looking like fighter planes flying in formation, brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) fascinate bystanders as they glide along the coast, riding updrafts and air currents. Even with a wingspan of over 6 feet and an 8-pound body, these birds are extremely maneuverable.

Natural La Jolla: Sea lions — our noisy neighbors

Photo: Jeremy W. Smith

Many towns across the U.S. count raccoons and white-tailed deer among their urban wildlife, while we are lucky to have a much more varied selection here in La Jolla. One of the more charismatic animals we have in town is the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).

Natural La Jolla: A Southern California symbol — the fan palm

Tall fan palms silhouetted against a blazing sunset in La Jolla. Jeremy W Smith photo

Although the redwoods (Sequoia spp.) were declared the official California State Tree in 1937, it could be said that Southern California has its own symbolic tree — the fan palm.

Natural La Jolla: Spiny lobster season begins in local waters

During the day, lobsters hide out together under rocks and in crevices avoiding predators. Photo: Jeremy W. Smith

On Oct. 1 at midnight, the season for California spiny lobster began for recreational fishers. Our nearshore waters are now dotted with bobbing buoys while eerie underwater lights at night are carried by scuba divers out searching for their prized “bugs.”

Natural La Jolla: Night sky a blanket of stars during blackout

Palm trees wave in the slight breeze in darkened La Jolla. Photos by Jeremy W. Smith

Although a bit of a bother for the commute home (or a nightmare depending on where you live), the Sept. 8 blackout gave us a unique and unplanned look at our world without artificial light.

Natural La Jolla: Gold medallion tree makes La Jolla seem sunny

Bright yellow blooms of the gold medallion tree. Photo: Jeremy W. Smith

I was struck by the glorious color presented by a certain tree that I saw along streets in La Jolla, one that made the village appear much more sunny than it was — the gold medallion tree.

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