Saturday, February 19, 2011

Elephant Seals

About a month ago the DH and I drove to the central California coast. At the time, it was cold, wet and miserable here at home and we knew the coast would be sunny.

While there, we stopped off at a beach near Piedras Blancas lighthouse to see the elephant seals. Every year the seals start arriving around the end of November and stay through most of March. December and January are when most of the calves are born and the beach is so crowded with seals that you can hardly see the sand.

You can see in this shot that there's still a bit of room left on the beach. However, by now (mid-Feb.) there probably isn't! The seals tend to stay in groups. One male will have all the females in his harem close to him.

Here are a couple of female elephant seals and the smaller, darker one is a baby. This baby is probably a couple of weeks old. To give you a bit of perspective, the female elephant seals weigh around 1500 pounds or three-quarters of a ton. The males are about three times larger than the females -- yes around 5,000 pounds or roughly the size as an SUV! They are named elephant seals for a reason!

The babies weigh about 70 pounds at birth and quadruple their weight in a month. One of the park rangers told me that for every pound the baby gains, the mother loses two. YIKES! That is one diet I'll gladly skip.

Here's one more photo of that crowded beach. These are the first photos with my new camera so I'm trying them out here on the blog.

Notice the lovely blue sky and the relatively calm ocean. Both were a welcome reprieve from our dreary January.



Susan Hatler said...

Love the seals. They are SO pretty!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Susan!
Thanx for stopping by.

As you can tell from the photos, you can't get too close to the elephant seals. The park service fenced off the beach and installed a walkway to observe them. This keeps the seals safe from people and vice versa. You'd be shocked at how fast those big males can move when motivated!


TinaFerraro said...

Next time I'm feeling chubby I'll have to take the PCH north and visit the mama seals. ;) Thanks for this, Cindy. Very interesting!~

Helen said...

Hi Aunty Cindy

I so love those photos the new camera is very good. I really like seals for some reason although I don't think I would like to run into one of them in the water LOL.

They are so agile in the water and seem to glide through the water with such ease considering their weight.

Being at the beach is so nice I just wish I had more time at the moment I seem to be at work or having meetings not much time for myself these days although it will be all worth it for a great convention here in Sydney at the end of March

Have Fun

jennifer tanner said...

Hi AC!

I've been out to Ano Nuevo during the off season. It was quite a hike to get out to the seals because there was no walkway at the time. They're ginormous. We kept our distance!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL, Tina!
You will feel very svelte after viewing those seals. ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanx Helen,
I'm still getting used to the camera. I'm about 50/50 right now on good to bad piccies.

You're right, those seals may look awkward on land but in the water they are amazing! Actually, they can move pretty good on land sometimes when they are a mind to.

Sorry work is stressful for you right now, but you do have the ARRA conference coming up SOON! I know you'll enjoy that.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

You need to make a return trip to Ano Nuevo. The walkways and fencing are great for viewing the seals. Plus, the rangers and docents are great about answering questions.

There is NO WAY I'd ever get on the beach with those critters. They can run you down in a heart beat on that sand! Like I told Helen, they can MOVE when they want to.


Sheila Deeth said...

Oh, lovely! Wish I could be there.