Today weaners found their way up onto the path at the north end of the bluff. Two were right on the path, like this little female. One was just below it. They are so appealing, I have to restrain myself not to touch them. I’ve resisted temptation thus far. It wouldn’t be dangerous – I’ve never heard of a weaner attacking anyone, and they don’t even have large teeth yet. The risk is to the animal, adapting them to human touch. It’s an issue for animals that are rescued. The Marine Mammal Rescue people find weaners are affectionate with their handlers, but then are unwilling to return to the beach. There is no future for a captive elephant seal.
I returned to the office for yellow ‘Caution’ tape, looks like crime scene tape, and a sign asking people to stay back. We posted that rather than locking the gate and keeping people entirely off the trail.
The beach has been inundated by high tides and big waves several times this season, washing pups out to sea and drowning them. It's unusual for pups to climb this high, but perhaps they are seeking high ground. The pups that are on the path are slim, not nearly as fat as some on the beach. I don't know whether this makes a difference or not.
One of the values I see in staffing the viewpoint with docents is to give the public support in understanding the interface between wildlife and humans. Humans need to avoid direct intervention in wildlife, especially those that don’t deliberately involve themselves with humans. All these critters want to do is spend time on the beach, their natural habitat. Because they tolerate humans, we have this wonderful opportunity to appreciate wild animals in their own setting. It’s a natural phenomenon and I believe it touches the heart of everyone who visits.