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On Vox: Beach Party Animals

Last weekend we went to see the elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Reserve, which is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant seal. There were thousands of them cavorting, fighting, having sex, giving birth, swimming, sleeping, tossing sands around and generally being noisy in and around the dunes. This time of year Año Nuevo is like a Cancun spring break beach party for elephant seals.

The big males can be upwards of 4500 pounds, the newborn pups are the size of big dogs, weighing about 75 pounds at birth. The males, as males sometimes like to do, spend their time fighting to be the biggest baddest most desireable boy on the beach or sleeping in the sun. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of the "weeners", called that because their mothers have stopped nursing them and they're left to fend for themselves in the ocean afterwards. Doesn't he look like he's asking for a little more time before he's one his own? Either that or he's posing for the camera.

This time of year you need reservations and have to go in a small group on the guided hikes to get up close at the reserve. They don't want people going out alone, not sure if that's for the elephant seals sake or ours. It's about a 4 to 5 miles of hiking and was good exercise. By way of contrast I have done nothing remotely physical this weekend, it's much more fun to get out and about when you've got a partner doing it with you. If you're in the Bay Area and want to go yourself, be warned, we booked our tickets about 2 months ago and most of the dates during this peak season were already sold out.  

If you're curious for more photos of the elephant seals, the link to the Flickr set is here (Adding this link makes we think that Vox should have an import of whole Flickr sets, replacing its basically unusable photo "Collection" tool)

Originally posted on patty.vox.com