Alex Hughes — Oceanside, CA… One of the most enjoyable experiences of going to the local beaches is the overall atmosphere. When the sun is shining, you can see the ocean glisten and waves crash. For me, I tend to look at the natural environment including the animals. Most would tend to think of the seagulls, pelicans or even the tiny crabs that hide in the sand. However, I like to look at the squirrels. They seem out of place at the beach and more common in inland parks or even in the unincorporated areas where there is more space and less people. However, they know that beachgoers usually bring food with them especially snacks that are full of fats and salts.
The two cities that I have seen lots of these creatures is Oceanside and Carlsbad. When you go the Oceanside Harbor, there is a large rock area near the boats. It is behind the wall across from the shops. This is where squirrels like to hide and meander their way through the jagged tunnels. However, when people decide to sit there, they pop their heads out and wiggle their noses to see if they smell food. This is especially the case considering that there is Harbor Fish and Chips here where outdoor seating is plenty. You could imagine that fries and fried fish sound a lot more appetizing than fruits or the scraps they might find on the ground. Although feeding the squirrels is against the law, that does not stop people from dropping a fry for them or hand feeding them. I have always found pleasure in watching humans and animals connecting so intimately. They don’t run away but instead come to you in trust.
As for Carlsbad, you can see them at Tamarack State Beach where there is a dry plant area near the bathrooms. There are holes near the cacti where they sometimes come out and watch people or possibly the ocean. There is a wall that goes along for quite a distance that corrals a walking path. I have seen the squirrels crawl along the tops of these walls.
My advice for beachgoers is to keep an eye on your food and where you eat because the squirrels are watching and waiting for a potential bite. I’d also be aware of the seagulls as they sometimes conveniently land next to where you are sitting.