Happy World Animal Day to my animal-loving friends out there! I thought this was the perfect occasion to share some of my favorite WILD animal photos.

Up first (above) are some snoozing California sea lions on the Central Coast at Morro Bay. (If you’d like to plan a trip to Morro Bay, don’t miss my vacation guide–it’s a favorite destination of my family.) However, I must also give a shout out to the most famous furry residents of Morro Bay: the sea otters!

sea otters eating crabs at Morro Bay

Adult sea otters feasting on crabs while floating on Morro Bay.

I could watch, and photograph, the sea otters of Morro Bay for hours at a time–just ask my family!

Of course, Morro Bay is pretty easy to get to from our Northern California base. A different favorite animal photo today comes from one place that was much more of an adventure to reach: Isla Espiritu Santo in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. It had been on my travel bucket list for years. Can you see why?

Isla Espiritu Santo rookery with frigate birds

Frigate birds fill the sky at their rookery at Isla Espiritu Santo on the Sea of Cortez.

Okay, maybe it’s not just about the birds. The shallow, turquoise waters around Isla Espiritu Santo are a sight to behold. You can see more photos from our La Paz and Sea of Cortez journey in this gallery.

Naturally, this bird and beautiful water “favorite animal photo” led me to one other, taken again much closer to home. While I often think of the northern California coast as foggy, when the morning sunlight hits Monterey’s magical waters just right they glow like a jewel.

sea bird whimbrel at Monterey

A “whimbrel” sea bird atop a shell encrusted rock with the Pacific breaking behind it at Asilomar State Beach, Monterey, California.

What colors I found on this morning walk at Asilomar State Beach! With plenty of whimbrels and other sea birds to go around. You can find this birding paradise on the Monterey Peninsula adjacent to Asilomar conference grounds.

Hope you enjoyed these favorite animal photos and their back stories! I’m plugging away at building my new archive library and site. Stay tuned for more! In the meantime, you can check out my growing library of stock travel photography and San Francisco photojournalism. And if you have questions about purchasing digital downloads or prints, check out my new FAQ.

To find out more about World Animal Day and its mission to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe, visit the World Animal Day website. Have a great weekend!

Previous post: Puerto Vallarta Sculptures at Dusk – Moodlight on the Malecon

You might also like these photo galleries:

Morro Bay Stock Photo Gallery

La Paz and Sea of Cortez Stock Photo Gallery

All photos ©Shelly Rivoli and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. See FAQ for licensing information and contact with questions.