Friday, February 4, 2011

Elephant seal daycare

On Monday, I stopped at Hearst Beach, San Simeon Cove on my way up to the bluff. That’s where the man was attacked last month. State Parks has asked for volunteers to spend time there, to educate the public about the seals that are increasingly resting there.

Ranger Jose Lopez happened to arrive at the same time I did, so I joined him in driving down the beach to see how many were there. We counted seven adult seals on the beach.
He honked at them. They sure don’t like the truck. Several roused themselves as the truck drove past and a couple opened their mouths. I’m not sure whether it was a threat or not. I was glad I was in the truck and not on foot! How terrifying it would be to be attacked.

That wildlife/human interface is always troublesome.

At the Piedras Blancas bluff, thousands of seals are doing well. Many youngsters have already been weaned and are on their own. Some are still being born. I saw several newborns on the beach, although I didn’t witness any births that day.

These two mothers have attracted 11 pups! It made me wonder if there is any kind of reciprocal caring going on. Cows babysit for each other. I’ve never heard it described, but elephant seal mothering is far from completely understood. This looks like elephant seal daycare.

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