Wednesday, January 16, 2008

See Mating Elephant Seals

The largest mainland breeding colony of northern elephant seals can be found at Año Nuevo State Reserve. You have not seen anything until you see two-ton elephant seals battling over a prospective mate. The reserve is located about 90 minutes south of San Francisco on Hwy. 1 between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz.

Elephant seals may be found at Año Nuevo throughout the year. The breeding season runs from December through March. Adult males begin arriving in December and begin to battle to become dominant. The winners of these fights do most of the mating. By late March, the adult seals leave the park and only the weaned pups remain. In the spring and summer, adults return to the park to molt. During the fall, yearlings come ashore.

Año Nuevo is worth visiting at any time. However, seeing the seals breed is particularly fascinating. The breeding season runs from December 15 through March 31. During this time, visitors may only see the park on a guided walk. Advance reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling (800) 444-4445. The molting season runs from April 1 to August 31 and the fall haul-out season from September 1 to November 30. During these seasons, you will need to pick up a free permit for a self-guided hike from the entrance station. Try to arrive early to make sure you get a permit and have enough time for the hike.

A visit to Año Nuevo is a uniquely California experience. If you would like a private tour that includes a visit to Año Nuevo, please feel free to call me at (866) 326 - 4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

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