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.