Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Elephant seals at Año Nuevo

Monique, Jeff Harm, and I went down to Año Nuevo State Park on Monday, Feb. 22, and took the guided hike and tour of the elephant seal colony, which is just past the peak of breeding season. If elephant seals seem familiar, gentle reader, it may be because we visited a colony farther south along the California coast a few years ago:

Patio Boat Blog: Feb. 23, 2009: Vacation Pictures, Part 2, Elephant Seals in San Simeon

I won't pile too many details about the elephant seal on this blog post. Check out the Wikipedia article if you want to know more: Elephant seal.

Año Nuevo is about 75 miles south of San Francisco. We arrived shortly after the peak of breeding season, but there was still plenty of action on the beach.

Look, action!

Action! I said, ACTION!

[Above: A "weaner." Weaners are young elephant seals that were recently weaned. They stay on the beach for a few months before learning to swim and heading out to sea.]

Okay, so there were plenty of elephant seals mostly lazing about. There was still the usual mix of fighting, breeding, and cheating on the side that makes watching an elephant seal colony the most sinful indulgence this side of Peyton Place. So without further ado, let the wild rumpus begin!

The wild rumpus begins with a little sand on the back to cool off.

The old houses for the lighthouse station. They were abandoned in the 1940s and taken over by sea lions.

Those big inert things on the beach aren't boulders. They're elephant seals. The little inert things aren't rocks. They're weaner elephant seals.

Jeff checks out the abandoned lighthouse station, "Eh, I've lived in worse."

Elephant seals as far as the eye can see.

Elephant seal bull and weaners.

Youngish bull elephant seal. As they age the snout grows longer and longer. The females don't develop the trunklike snout.

An elephant seal bull roughing up a weaner for some reason.

The speed, the grace.

Two bulls think about fighting. Then they fall back asleep.

Monique hugs a fully clad elephant seal.

Say it loud, say it proud, "I'm 5,000 pounds of blubber!"

Cute weaner.

A female checks out our tour party from the shade.

Weaner buddies.

What's that you say? You want *MORE* elephant seals? Well, here you go.

One solitary sea lion amid the elephant seals. After watching the slug-like movements of the elephant seals, this sea lion looked like a ballerina en pointe.

A bull approaches one of the females in his harem....

He offers to buy her a drink....

She invites him to come up for a cup of coffee, and....

Cue the (elephant seal) porno music.

Elephant seal bull.

The young bull on the left made a move on the female. The big bull moves in to chase him off, and....

Once again, cue the (elephant seal) porno music.

Two bulls consider fighting. They eventually decided to take a nap, instead. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. Move along

Two young bulls on the "loser beach" -- where the non-mating males go -- get in a little fighting practice for next year. Better luck next year, guys.