30 March 2015

elephant seals

Hearst San Simeon State Park

There are getting to be lots of places to see elephant seals on the beaches in the right season, but many are closed except to pass through with a surf board. The official viewing site is atop a short bluff with a fence to keep the people rounded up. It allows surprisingly close up views all the same. We stopped on the way up the road to see them. They have thinned out from the peak, but there are still many females and juveniles relaxing under the sun.

elephant seals along the side of the road
A small bay full of elephant seals beside highway 1.

huge pile of female elephant seals
Lots of happy faces. They can still be fairly thick on the beach. The females do not have quite the same schnoz as the males.

resting upon another's tail
I guess a tail can make a very comfortable chin rest.

three with wide open mouths
Not so happy faces. Fighting, or maybe just bickering, breaks out a lot.

scratching a chin and a chest
They have kept their fingernails to get that under the chin scratch that is sometimes so needed.

flicking sand
A flick of sand can tone down that sun.

male elephant seal with his nose growing
Now there is the nose that gets them their name.

two snowy egrets
Snowy egrets on the rocks.

two in the water plus one underwater
A pair play in the water.

porpose dorsal fins
Mark spotted another mammal out in the water.

three heads turned this way
They are alert and sometimes watching us right back.

beached and swimming seals
Another cove with lots of elephant seals on the beach and swimming.

lighthouse on a point
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse out past another beach of seals.

black birds
Cormorants on the rocks.

seal tracks in the sand
A close look at the tracks the elephant seals leave.

elephant seals
There are even more in the other direction.

elephant seal with high curvature
Some of the elephant seals really like to curl their backs up.

itching the neck
More scratching.

molt from golden color
They are currently molting.

stiff black whiskers
They have some amazing whiskers.

set of three elephant seals
One last pile of elephant seals before waving them good-bye.

It is possible to walk all the way to the lighthouse to the west on bluff paths. The more accessible travel is along the boardwalk to the southeast.

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 4 April 2015

No comments: