If you fancy yourself a nature lover, there’s a habitat for elephant seals along the California coast that you will not want to miss.
Visit between December and March
During the December to March mating season, you will find docent led nature walks at Año Nuevo State Park where you can learn all about the habits and habitats of one of nature’s most enormous creatures, the elephant seal.
The main attraction is always the fantastic northern elephant seals that can weigh 2 1/2 tons each, but other visible species include sea lions, New York City Raccoon Removal, otters, and harbor seals.
It’s fun to see the huge bulls fight for dominance on the beach and strut their stuff to attract the bevy of ladies in-waiting. At the end of the party, lots of the females – pregnant in the year before – give birth in the sand. Then it is off to the ocean until next year’s call to revelry.
Hunted to near extinction in the nineteenth century, the elephant seal population dwindled to about 100 animals. Protected by the American and Mexican authorities in the early twentieth century, the population has rebounded to some 150,000.
The first elephant seal sightings in Año Nuevo began in the 1950s. The first pups were born on the mainland in the 70s, and from the mid-90s, the amount of local births was in the thousands.
This is successful conservation in action!
In March, and after the main group has departed for parts unknown, the pups and several hundred elephant seals continue to rest and recuperate along the beach and molt – not as lively as breeding, but still worth seeing.
Be forewarned, on hot sunny days, there is nothing quite like the aroma of a molting elephant seal.
Just off the mainland sits Año Nuevo Island. The barren and wind-swept island is home to the remains of a 19th century lighthouse. The historical keeper’s house shown above was constructed in 1872, and now provides shelter to a variety of Cormorants and Sea Lions.
Prepare for a mini-workout
You will walk around 3-miles during a tour at Año Nuevo. Wear comfortable clothes, especially shoes, as your guided walk will take you over varied terrain including sand dunes, and you know what it is like to trudge in sand.
Also, wear proper headgear since the tours go, rain or shine – and umbrellas aren’t permitted.
NOTE: There is an accessible boardwalk via van for those needing mobility assistance. Ask for details when buying tickets for.
For more information about visiting with the fascinating elephant seals, check out the park’s website.
There’s also a worthwhile Marine Education Center located inside the park boundaries with interesting animal, plant, and geological exhibits, together with information about the colorful history of the area.
If you go
Treat yourself and your family to a trip with the magnificent elephant seals.