Monday, April 2, 2012

Año Nuevo State Park

In mid March we visited Año Nuevo State Park.
The park is home to a colony of Elephant Seals.  To visit in the months of December through March one must be on a guided tour.  Tickets sell out fast for the months of December and January when there is the most interesting activity; male dominance fights and calving.
 By March the calves have been weaned and their mothers have gone back to sea.  The young must figure out how to get to the ocean, learn to swim and hunt before they loose the stores of fat they got from their mother's rich milk (55% butterfat) and starve.  The mortality rate is high, about 50%.
They must also avoid the inappropriate advances of the young bulls who are still hanging around.
An immature female, coming ashore to molt, also tries to avoid an ardent male.
All of the seals must come ashore to molt, a few, like this juvenile female have already arrived.  More juveniles and females will arrive on the beach in the next couple of months and the adult bulls in August.  Elephant Seals have a very interesting life cycle and you can read more here.
There is more to this park than just seals.  We saw a couple of deer.
A ranger pointed out what he said were mountain lion tracks on the dunes.  There were also middens, evidence of the Ohlone, indigenous people who inhabited the area before Europeans.



















We also saw several of these, the San Francisco Garter Snake.  A beautiful reptile that in endangered due to habitat loss.  The rangers and docents were quite excited to see so many of them this spring.











Find more views of our amazing world at That's Our World, Tuesday, hosted for us by Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy.

21 comments:

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

What an interesting place to be able to take a trip to.

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Great post. Thank you.

aka Penelope said...

The snake would be impossible to spot, I think, without the skilled eye of the guide. The lion tracks are a little disconcerting. The seal on the sand appearing to bask in the sun makes a lovely picture. The lives of these creatures seem harsh and wondrous all at the same time!

Sylvia K said...

Such wonderful captures of beautiful, interesting creatures, Martha! I do love the seals and that colorful snake! A lovely place, thanks for sharing it today!

Sylvia

Carver said...

Beautiful park and I love the photographs of the seals. Great shots and post for today.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, that is interesting. Glad to hear that the seals have a refuge. Exciting about the mountain lion.

biebkriebels said...

Beautiful photos. What a shame the little seals are left on their own on the beach by their mothers. I didn't know that.

Gary said...

Grand tour Martha!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Snap said...

What a great place to visit ... seals, snakes, critters of all kinds and colors!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Thank you for sharing these wonderful views -- I always love your world, but it is really special when you share a tour like this one that I'll probably never be in the right place at the right time to take!

Your pictures are wonderful and the information appreciated..

mick said...

A fascinating place to be able to see all those elephant seals - plus the rest of the wildlife. Great photos.

Robert Geiss said...

thank you very much for this probably unique journey. please have a good tuesday.

Arija said...

Love your elephant seals, I did not know there were any outside the arctic regions. Great to have them so accessible. The garter snake is so colourful, I wish we had some here rather than the crop of deadlies we have around the place.

Gaelyn said...

Nice thing about touring with a Ranger is seeing what you might otherwise miss. Great park. Glad it's still open. How fun to see the seals.

EG CameraGirl said...

Sounds like a wonderful place to go. You know somebody is doing things right when park rangers get excited about the wildlife.

Pearl said...

How beautiful. I think this Minnesota girl would fall over with amazement to see seal lions in the wild!

Pearl

Carol said...

Great series of Photos, Martha. I would love to see those seals. Even the snake looks pretty with his color popping through the grasses.

Joyful said...

It looks like a beautiful place. You've captured it wonderfully.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful sequence of shots of the seals. Very nice place.

SKIZO said...

Great.Pictures

Kathie Brown said...

How interesting! That is, indeed, a gorgeous garter snake!