Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May on the Beach

With all the juveniles and adult females on the beach at this time of year, May is actually the month when the most elephant seals are on the beach. More even than during the breeding season. This is the south beach. It's a cloudy day, so they aren't lined up along the water's edge, to take advantage of the cool, wet sand. The pearly gray ones have finished their molt. The brown ones are still working on it. They will be on the beach for several more weeks.

The north beach is similarly crowded. These photos were taken at a relatively low tide.

The exposed rocks will be covered as the tide comes in. When it's out, harbor seals sun themselves and sleep on the rocks. I'll post photos from the same vantage point every month, to show how the population on the beach changes with time.
Visitors often ask What's the best time to see elephant seals? As far as I'm concerned, every day is a good day. There's always something interesting happening. This week, several people remarked that when they saw the sign and decided to pull off the road, they hoped they might see one seal. Their jaws dropped when they saw thousands.
It's great to be a docent here. How many places can you exceed people's expectations so dramatically?

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