The Piedras Blancas Beaches are ideal for such a breeding ground as it protected from storms, it has wide, sandy beaches and it provides protection from predators with a kelp forest.
The Elephant Seals are protected by federal law as they were almost driven to extinction in the late 1880’s. The males arrive on the beach in November and December. The females also arrive in December to give birth. The first pups begin to emerge around December 20th. The females continue to give birth, only one pup per birth per female, through February.
When we arrived to view the beach it was February 10th. By this time most of the pups had been born. Some were still so new they were still feeding off their mothers.
The noise is the first thing we notice. When we pulled into the parking lot, exited the MH and made our way over to the viewing area, all we heard was screaming and grunting. These were the noises of the Elephant Seals. Check it out for yourself with the video at the end of this post.
Elephant Seals On The Beach
The Elephant Seals lay in the sun and conserve their energy. The females can get up to 2000 lbs and the males can reach upwards of 5000 lbs! They do not eat at this breeding time, so they must live off of their fat for a few months. To stay cool, they throw sand on their backs.
This is definitely a site to be seen. We’re glad we made the extra effort to see this.
Once the Elephant Seal pups are weened from their mothers they are on their own. They have to learn to swim and get food all alone. Elephant Seals naturally are loners. They hunt alone and swim alone. The only time they are together with others is right now when they get together and breed. After mid to late February, they go back out into the ocean, alone.
There was also a lot of other wildlife in the area. David did an amazing job photographing the birds as well as a California Ground Squirrel.
We had a great stop at the Piedras Blancas Beaches. This breeding ground is only 4 miles north of Hearst Castle. If we would have known that, we would have stopped by when we toured the castle. Oh well.