When we last left our day trip up the central coast, we had just finished a walk on the pier at San Simeon Bay. Our final stop for the day was just 4 1/2 miles North of this location at the Piedras Blancas elephant seal colony. We made a trip up here last winter and enjoyed it, so we thought we’d take another look to see how many elephant seals were here this time. The trip to Piedras Blancas is 60 miles, one-way, from Pismo Beach. (Click any photo for a larger view.)
In early fall (like now) the beach is sparsely populated. During September and October the young-of-the-year and juveniles haul out from the sea to rest and play. Many of these pups were the ones born here last winter, and others are from 1 to 4 years old.
The young seals that are resting here now are the survivors of the long journey they took to feed on fish and squid while avoiding great white shark and orcas attacks. The seals don’t live here on this beach, but they return for a few months each winter to give birth and mate again before setting out to sea. They also return for a few months during the summer to molt and rest. The adult males will spend 8 months at sea and 4 on land. Adult females and juveniles spend 10 months at sea and 2 on land. They are solitary travelers.
Since no mating or birthing is going on in this season, the action is calm and quiet. Except for seeing some of them play-fight, many were just lying on the warm sand or playing in the surf.
I liked this pic, it reminded me of that scene in the movie Gone With The Wind when Scarlett comes out of the makeshift hospital and she sees the hundreds (or thousands) of wounded or dead soldiers lying in the street as far as she could see.
When we come back to Pismo Beach in the winter, we may come back up to the elephant seal colony again. By that time the large adult males and the females will be on the beach. We will also be able to see a lot of the newborn pups. The peak birthing period is mid-January to the end of the month. The large adult males will make the 5,000 mile journey to the Aleutian Islands twice a year. The females and juveniles go North and Northwest but don’t usually travel as far as the oldest adult males.
It was a nice day trip and the coastal views were excellent and beautiful when we were out of the fog pockets. Any wildlife viewing is also a plus, as far as we’re concerned. Annie like seeing the seals, too. There is a fence along the entire viewing area so children and dogs can’t get out onto the beach area.
When we had enough time gazing at the large creatures, we got back into the car and drove home. It was a good day.
Until next time…..so long for now!