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Elephant Seals of Ano Nuevo State Park

Hundreds of thousands of northern elephant seals once inhabited the Pacific Ocean. They were slaughtered wholesale in the 1800s for the oil that could be rendered from their blubber. By 1892, only 50 to 100 individuals were left. The only remaining colony was on the Guadalupe Island off the coast of Baja California.

Elephant seal mating

Elephant seal mating

In 1922, the Mexican government gave protected status to elephant seals, and the U. S. government followed suit a few years later when the seals began to appear in Southern California waters. Since that time, elephant seals have continued to multiply exponentially, and they have extended their breeding range as far north as Point Reyes. Today, there are approximately 160,000 northern elephant seals.

Bull Northern Elephant Seal Demonstrating Dominance

Bull Northern Elephant Seal Demonstrating Dominance

The first elephant seals on Año Nuevo Island were sighted in 1955, and the first pup was born there in 1961. In 1978, 872 were born there. Males began to haul out on the mainland in 1965. A pup born in January 1975 was the first known mainland birth of a northern elephant seal at Año Nuevo; 86 pups were born there in 1978. By 1988/1989, about 2,000 elephant seals came ashore at Año Nuevo, and the number of seals breeding and giving birth on the mainland is still increasing. During the 1994-95 breeding season, approximately 2,000 pups were born on the mainland.

Elephant Seal Pup Remains

Elephant Seal Pup Remains

 

Ano Nuevo Park, and the Elephant Seals are a perfect example for giving nature a chance. Get the poisons out of the environment, provide some habitat and nature will bounce back. Ano Nuevo State Park for its nature show experience is a must see about 50 miles south of San Francisco.

One Response to “Elephant Seals of Ano Nuevo State Park”

  1. Cory J Neill says:

    Spectacular. Did you get any of them to eat out of your hand?

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