Every year, Fremont gives us a four-day weekend for Presidents’ Day (if we do an extra professional development day in August). Last year, I thought we should hike to see the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo, but sadly, because February is pretty much the best time to see elephant seals of all ages at one time the tours fill up FAST. So there were no spots available. This year I signed up at Christmas so we could go. It was awesome.
The weather was perfect, although Isaac should not have forgotten sunscreen.
We even saw a bobcat and a… whatever that thing is…
The adult males get giant proboscises, and they bark-bray loudly as they wave their huge noses in the air to show how mature and dominant they are. The “babies” grow from somewhere around 75 pounds to 300 in a month. Unless they wean from two moms like this guy. He’s huge.
The moms don’t eat or drink for a whole month after giving birth, so by the time they go back to the ocean after weaning their pups, they are literally starving.
The sanctuary here has helped the elephant seals, which were once edging toward extinction and are now up around 180,000. The fertility rate is about 100% but the mortality rate of new pups is only about 50% for the first year. They have to teach themselves to swim.
We had to get a souvenir elephant seal. Aiden swam it all the way home. We highly recommend a visit. It was a nice little hike, and this is the kind of unusual animal I remember being fascinated by from books in elementary school but never seeing in real life. It was a fun day trip.