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Conservation– Winter Wildlife

Not only is winter a wonderful time to see seasonal wildlife in Santa Cruz County, but it is also the time of year to experience the beauty and mystery of the California King Tide. The California King Tide, is a wonderful opportunity to investigate tide pools during this incredibly low tide event. Critters that can be seen up close in these tide pools are sea urchins, sea stars and juvenile crabs. Check out the local tide chart today!

January 2022 Newsletter

Monarch Butterflies– Natural Bridges State Beach

These tropical milkweed butterflies make their way to our coastal climate starting mid October. As a fairly recognizable member of the Nymphalidae family, Monarch's make the eucalyptus grove at Natural Bridges their temporary home for the winter months. In addition to monarch butterflies, eucalyptus trees are often home to other wildlife like Great Horned Owls and other birds like crows, raven, and both red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks. Check out Natural Bridges this winter season!

Elephant Seals– Año Nuevo State Reserve

From early December until late March you can see these impressive marine creatures from a relatively close but safe distance at Año Nuevo State Reserve. As one of the largest sites to see the natural behaviors of elephant seals in the wild, we are lucky that it is only 22 miles north of Santa Cruz. Experiencing two bull elephant seals fighting is a sight to behold when they weigh in at 5,000 pounds!! Reservations are recommended for weekends and holidays, but walk-in tickets are available Monday through Friday. Tickets are $7 per person plus a $3.99 reservation fee. The vehicle day-use fee is $10. For reservations and info, visit or call 1-800-444-4445.

The Monterey Bay serves a main thoroughfare for many species of whale year round, as they commute off the coast of California on their migrational journey to and from their breeding grounds. During the winter months, December - April, roughly 20,000 California Gray Whales can be seen from kayak, yacht, or even land as they travel 12,000 miles round-trip from the arctic to warmer waters in Mexico to mate and nurse their young. Whale watching tours during this time of year often see other marine life like sea otters, dolphins, porpoises, sea lions, humpbacks whales. Look towards for the your whale watching needs!

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