Calif.--The Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery
is located 7.7 miles north of San Simeon along scenic Coast Highway One.
The vista point has a number of excellent educational and interpretive
signs provided by Caltrans.
Look for Friends of the Elephant
Seal docents in their blue jackets to answer your questions. The
Friends of the Elephant Seal office and visitor center is located in Plaza
del Cavalier in San Simeon. Address: 250 San Simeon Ave. Suite 3B
San Simeon, CA 93452
The number of elephant seal pups born at
Piedras Blancas in 2001 was about 1950. The total population of a rookery
is difficult to estimate because all members are never present at the same
time. Researchers multiply the number of pups born times 3.5-4.5 to get
an approximation. The total population for Piedras Blancas at the turn of
the 21st century
was estimated to be around 8000.
The elephant seal breeding season begins
at Año Nuevo in December, when the first males arrive. From fourteen
to sixteen feet long and weighing up to 2 1/2 tons, these huge bulls engage
in violent battles to establish dominance. The successful bulls do much
of the breeding, with most of the duty falling on the "alpha" bull at the
top of the social ladder.
In late December, the females begin to
arrive and form "harems" on the beaches of the Reserve. Much smaller than
the males, they average ten to twelve feet in length and weigh 1,200 to
2,000 pounds. Three to six days after she arrives, the female gives birth
to the pup that was conceived the previous year. Normally only one pup
is born to each female, and she nurses for 25 to 28 days. Ordinarily, a
mother nurses her own pup, although if they are separated another female
may adopt the youngster. Feeding on its mother's rich milk (55% fat), the
pup grows from approximately 75 pounds at birth to 250-350 pounds in less
than a month. Some resourceful pups nurse from two or three females. They
can weigh 600 pounds and are aptly called "super weaners".
P.O. Box 490, Cambria, CA 93428
Office - Cavalier Plaza, San Simeon INFO: 805-924-1628