A man who was chasing people away from an adult male elephant seal got between the seal and the ocean and was attcked and bitten during the first week of January, http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2011/01/20/1449415/seal-bites-man-at-san-simeon.html. The seal was resting on the beach at San Simeon Cove, like this one I photographed January 10. In the distance, a rider on horseback is towing a surfer on a surfboard. The seal is more than twice as large as the horse.
The close encounters between humans and seals make attacks more likely. A subadult male was reported at Leffingwell Landing in Cambria in early January and many seals have made Arroyo Laguna their destination during the breeding season. Last year quite a few pups were born there. Only a conventional gate in the fence separates the public from the field. Visitors open it and walk among the seals. I watched two adults with two young children walking in the field January 17.
It's a worrisome situation. No one wants anyone to get hurt. The docent program at Piedras Blancas is the best defense against seal attacks. By educating the public, fewer will venture within biting range and both sides can remain safe.