Saturday

Elephant Seals of Piedras Blancas

RD and I decided to take a drive down Hwy 1. Why? With this kind of window dressing, why not?

We started seeing plumes from whales. I got excited when I saw a black and white body that could only mean a Killer Whale pod was feeding. We stopped at several turn outs like this, hoping to get a better look.

As we got closer to San Simeon, we found Elephant Seals. This male probably weighs close to 2 tons. He will mate with as many as 40 females in his harem.

The males rear up and bellow to scare off intruders. I was the intruder. It worked. I stayed on the walk way.

The males form a line of defense between the ocean and females. January is pretty dramatic for Elephant Seals. They give birth, feed pups, hang out until it's time to wean them and then leave. No one eats, fishes or wanders off as long as there are babies. Smart thinking that involves huge reserves of body fat.

The females pick a spot and claim it. This nursing pup has heard his mother's voice since birth. If they get separated, knowing Mama's call will save his life.

The predators lurk beyond these rocks. I realized we were following Killer Whales right to their prey. Until the migration, Seal City offers many perks besides 24/7 protection by the males.

There are sand baths.

Singing with the girls.

And tourist watching. Once pups are weaned, the mating begins. Then males and females head north, leaving pups to learn to swim and fish on their own. A newborn rests to the left of these females. The pup will gain 10 pounds a day and begin his migration when he gains about 300 pounds. If you want more info about Elephant Seals go to www.elephantseal.org


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