Monday, November 2, 2009

Sumo seals at Ano Nuevo State Park

Brace yourself: the big guys are about to return to Ano Nuevo State Park. The sumo wrestlers of the pinniped world, elephant seal males weigh up to 5,000 pounds and during mating season, they really know how to put on a show. Except when they don't feel like it. When they ARE feeling, er, in the mood for love, they do what some tacky guys do. They throw their weight around, do chest bumps with each other, and get into nasty, biting, snorting, snot-slinging fights. That's their idea of fun.

The much smaller elephant seals girls just lie there, eyes closed (thinking of England, perhaps), and hoping not to get squished on their romantic 'date'.

When the elephant seals don't feel like 'it', they just lie on the beach like large, brown turds (hey, you get downwind of them after they've been lying there for a while and see what springs to mind). So after you've signed up weeks in advance, paid your money, and hiked out a couple miles over the dunes to witness wildlife in action, you pretty much hope you see some action.

And, bulls being bulls, you stand a good chance of seeing a lot. But you know what? Even if you don't see a fight, you'll witness one of wildlife's most amazing spectacles. You'll see thousands of animals in a beautiful coastal setting, birthing pups, lunbering along inch-worm style, and living out their lives. Plus you get a nice, informative walk out of it. The guided 3-mile walks (moderately strenuous) go over rolling sand dunes and sloping terrain and last about 2 ½ hours and are held rain or shine. Don't miss one of California's true miracles: it only happens one season a year.

During the winter breeding season – December 15 through March 31 –you can only access the breeding area while on a guided walk (hey, it's for everyone’s protection). On October 20, individuals, families, and other groups can start making their reservations for the Public Seal Walk, for any dates up to 56 days in advance and as late as one day prior to their walk. Cost: $7; Children 3 and under free. Parking $10. Details: 650/ 879-2025 or 650/ 879-0227. To BOOK, click here or call ReserveAmerica 800/ 444-4445.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of California State Parks, 2009

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COPYRIGHT Lora Finnegan 2008-2009

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