National Geographic : 1963 Nov
bit of California's rocky Pacific coast near Monterey and Carmel. Established primarily to preserve one of two original stands of the strangely beautiful Monterey cypresses, it has become of late a haven for sea otters. First Russian fur hunters, then others of many nationalities, almost exterminated the sea otter of northern Pacific waters. Inch deep otter fur commanded fabulous prices in Moscow, China, and Europe. The United States Government forbade the taking of otters in 1911, but their numbers nevertheless still declined, until naturalists, in the 1920's, declared them doomed. Then in 1938, people with field glasses spotted a few playing in the ocean off Mon terey Peninsula. The graceful animals have been making a gradual recovery ever since. Today an estimated 700 sea otters frequent the coastal waters, ranging from Carmel Bay south to Point Conception, near Santa Bar bara. You can see them asleep in the kelp beds beneath the cliffs, lulled by the long Pacific swell. Sometimes, when they eat fish or clams, they lie flat on their backs and use their chests as tables (page 700). Butterflies Cloak Entire Trees Besides sea otters and sea lions, the Lobos forest has myriad nesting sea birds, deer, foxes, raccoons, bobcats, an occasional moun tain lion, and the greatest glory of all: count less millions of monarch butterflies, resting in migration time until whole trees look like tongues of flame.* California's famous Save-the-Redwoods League helped launch the state's outstanding parks system in 1927, although it thought initially only to protect the unique coastal, redwood trees of northern California from annihilation by lumbermen. The redwood parks the league saved from the ax and turned over to the state are un matched anywhere. The dedicated group raised millions of dollars to buy groves, then gave them to the people. *See "Mystery of the Monarch Butterfly," by Paul A. Zahl, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, April, 1963. Shaggy remnants of herds that numbered millions, bison lope across the foothills in 72,000-acre Custer State Park, South Da kota. Starring in Hollywood Westerns and supplying truly rare steak, the herd of about a thousand helps pay the costs of operating the park. Buffalo share their Black Hills sanctuary with deer, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, and wild burros. 658 KODACHROMEBY TED SPIEGEL, RAPHO GUILLUMETTE © N.G.S .