I was chaperoning a group of high school biology students on a four-day field trip to Monterey, California, with biology teacher extraordinaire, Mike Sherron.
We visited the incomparable Monterey Bay Aquarium, where the students conducted informational treasure hunts among multiple amazing exhibits. We learned about penguins, sharks, jellies, kelp forests, and more.
We hiked through Point Lobos State Reserve, viewing sea otters exuberantly pounding clams on their chests with rocks, then twisting and rolling in the water, grooming their luxurious fur. Seals and sea lions basked on rocks in the sun, the sea lions giving an occasional bark.
We stood in awe before enormous groves of eucalyptus trees, marveling at literally thousands of Monarch butterflies clinging to branches in thick orange fluttery clumps.
We picked our way among the rich tide-pools, discovering scurrying hermit crabs, flowerlike sea anemones, spiky sea urchins, and orange and purple sea stars.
And we spent one memorable morning whale-watching.
Which was how I found myself leaning against the boat’s railing, surveying the blue Pacific Ocean with binoculars, and continually being elbowed in the ribs.