Saturday, December 18, 2010

First pup born!

The first pup of the season was born Friday, December 10. That's early. Usually the first birth is closer to Christmas. He or she arrived fine and healthy, though. This one was born this morning, December 18. The mother appears confident and calm. She's within a few feet of the beachmaster. Subadult males and juveniles are still on the beach, but they aren't bothering her.
The pup is still attached to the afterbirth by its umbilical cord. A gull comes over.

The gull takes a taste --
then the whole flock comes over to clean it up.

This morning's visitors were excited and thrilled at the new baby, despite today's rain. Visitors are always at the bluff, eager to see what's going on.

Weather is harsh, rainy and windy. The pups don't have much body fat, blubber, when they are born. They gain weight fast, but they appear vulnerable to cold and wet at the start.

I'm in between holiday travel, but will post as news trickles in. One of the events I attended was the National Geographic Marine Recreation Community Workshop in Monterey, They invited people who are involved in ocean-related work in the community to partner with them in educating the public about the oceans. Speakers included Dan Costas, who leads marine animal research and is a co-founder of TOPP,; Jim Covel, senior manager of Guest Experience Training and and Interpretation at Monterey Bay Aquarium; Gary Grigggs, a researcher on coastal issues; Bridget Hoover, director of the Water Quality Protection Program; Lisa Lurie, Agriculture Water Quality coordinator for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary; Barton Seaver, chef and ocean advocate; and Tierney Thys, an expert on the ocean sunfish and all-around ocean expert.

The site has lots of the amazing photos that National Geographic is known for. This Frilled Shark lives as far as 5,000 feet deep. It's one of the critters that elephant seals know about but we don't. This one, which is almost five and a half feet long, was captured off Japan in 2007 and lived in captivity only a short time.

The opportunity to get all these wonderful people in one room at the same time was the best Christmas present I could have had. Every one of them was inspired and inspiring. I learned from all of them. I felt a whoosh of power in that room. Lifeguards, rangers, dive shop operators, whale-watching boat captains, Monterey Bay advocates of all kinds, and me, represented the elephant seals -- what a perfect way to reach more people who want to learn about the oceans and do better.

One of the phrases that stuck with me was, "You are now a citizen of Planet Ocean." I'm going to start telling bluff visitors that.


  1. The workshop must have been great. Anytime you can do anything with Nat Geo it is amazing. I am a full time volunteer at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach that takes care of sick, injured and orphaned seals and sea lions. I am heading up that way in early January to see them and take pictures. I never tire of that. I always look and wonder who I will end up seeing of the 50-75 we will get early next year. This was a pretty early birth for them. I have lots of pictures of these guys in rehab if you would like to see. We have 2 ellies from this year that came in with cookie cutter bites or pneumonia and underweight late in the year. Both doing good. I always love to hear what is going on at the rookeries. Thanks for docenting and educating the public. We need more of that with all marine life.

  2. Thanks, Joann. Great photos! Contact me when you are coming to Piedras Blancas and we'll get together.