ICONIC ANIMAL: How many fish or mammals or birds can you name? Okay, how many can you tie to a certain location? We're not talking about state birds, lovely and symbolic though they are. We're talking about those beasties that represent an area or region or city in an almost mythical way. They're on the sweatshirts and the postcards and even, very often, painted onto the city official vehicles and police cars. The moose and Maine go together here, as do beavers and Oregon and bison and Catalina Island. Some might even say Bigfoot and Santa Cruz or Humboldt County go hand in furry, large hand. And while Monterey County has its lush and lively share of wildlife -- whales and Monarch Butterflies are just two very popular returnees -- we must give the trophy to the otter, the trophy that stands for extreme local icon-o-sity. Of course, the otter would probably try and gnaw on it, or break the trophy open on its fuzzy belly, so perhaps a metal trophy isn't in order so much as a tasty urchin..
SO... knowing how visitors and locals alike love the otter, where would one see 'em in the area? The helpful go-here-then-there-ers at the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau have drawn up a quintet of great locales where otter-spying is a distinct possibility. Yep, Fisherman's Wharf is on there, as is Cannery Row, but so is Lovers Point and Point Lobos. And, hello glorious Moss Landing, where "bachelor otters" are "huddled together in rafts." Yes. To all of this. We want to see this now, and you do, too, and we don't apologize for using the word "love" earlier, a strong word that can be tossed about too cavalierly. We love otters, and seeing them at play and at snacking and at huddling in rafts is one of the superbest of Golden State sights. Here's hoping that other iconic animals everywhere can live up the the huddled rafts for sheer sweetness. And, yes, we're talking to you, too, Bigfoot.