Elephant Seals at San Simeon

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Elephant Seals at San Simeon
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By Robert Bernstein

This is the season for elephant seal mothers to be birthing pups. So, we went up to San Simeon to have a look. We were not disappointed! Plenty of nursing pups, mothers and huge posturing male elephant seals!

Here are my photos and videos.

This is one of the helpful educational signs that explained what we were seeing

We immediately encountered pups nursing their mothers in scenes like this

Elephant seals were laid out on the beach as far as you could see!

The males like to rear up and bellow like this

There is a big long viewing boardwalk for safe viewing

At the far end of the boardwalk we saw this cluster of a bunch of pups with no adults nearby. Not sure what that was about.

The males would approach the females and bite their necks in a show of elephant seal affection.

This view of a male, females and a pup shows the face of the male that gives the animal its name.

On Valentine's Day we were up at Lizard's Mouth and saw this rock formation that I thought looked like an elephant seal. What do you think?

The elephant seal viewing area is near the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse which we could see in the distance.

Here are three short videos I made showing the elephant seal activities in all their glory!

The elephant seal viewing area is about a 2 ½ hour drive from Goleta. After admiring the elephant seals for about an hour we went on for some other adventures in the area. Please stand by for some more articles!

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Ahchooo Feb 17, 2021 07:58 AM
Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Thanks, Robert. I love these guys. Love watching how they use their fingers, so to speak. Nice to see all the young ones. Wonder how they feel about being gawked at.

Shasta Guy Feb 17, 2021 09:23 AM
Elephant Seals at San Simeon

This is one of the most amazing natural wonders which is so close to home. Thanks for the photos which brings this to people who cannot see them in person. We loved bringing our kids to see them when they were younger. For everyone tired of Netflix, get in your car and see them. It's a fantastic experience. Thanks Robert!

mp805 Feb 17, 2021 09:51 AM
Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Great time of the year to view, everyone needs to see this in person. Also when in the area take the tour of the Piedras Blancas Light Station seen in the background of one of these photos. https://www.piedrasblancas.org/index.html

a-1613602806 Feb 17, 2021 03:00 PM
Elephant Seals at San Simeon

"Oh, gerroff! I don't wanna be your valentine!" But seriously - did you do it in a day? Find a safe place to eat or stay over?

sbrobert Feb 19, 2021 12:19 PM
Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Thank you all for the kind words. They don't seem to mind the humans watching from the boardwalk balcony. They keep coming back to that same area. I was intrigued how they also don't seem to mind being close to dead ones of their own kind. There were two dead ones and they did not seem to avoid them.

MP805: We will have to return and tour the lighthouse. Thanks!

ANON at 3:00PM 2/17: Not totally sure about your comments and questions. But we did indeed do it in one day. And we ate in Cambria. There are several restaurants safely serving food outdoors. I think Morro Bay is another option, though it is further. We stopped later for food at Pismo Beach. Also serving food outdoors.

Tim Bridwell Feb 20, 2021 08:19 AM
Elephant Seals at San Simeon

"A pup is borne and spends up to 28 days nursing off Mom then Mom leaves to restore her lost weight. She will likely never see her pup again. Eventually you have an abundance of pups on the beach and they tend to find each other as they don't want to stay around the larger animals for safety reasons and they are trying to figure out what life is all about. We call this a weiner pod. Weiner as they have all been weined and Pod due to multiple pups. They will stay on the beach for another approximately 8 weeks and eventually make it into the shallows of the water where they literally watch each other and learn the skills of swimming and diving. They will then eventually leave one by one.

I've been studying these animals for many years and spend great amounts of time at the rookery but not for the past 11 months due to Covid.
Also live near the rookery so if any questions about this neck of the woods please let me know.

sbrobert Feb 20, 2021 12:03 PM
Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Huge thanks for explaining the mystery group of pups with no adults nearby, TIM BRIDWELL! I was afraid something bad might happen to them. Good to know it is a normal process of weaning.

What about our observation that they seem rather oblivious to dead seals in their midst?

And are they similarly oblivious to us hairless apes watching them?

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