POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE, Calif. (KRON) — After a stormy start for elephant seal pupping season in Northern California, more pregnant seals are giving birth to pups during this week’s calmer weather.
Point Reyes National Seashore officials counted about 800 baby elephant seals during its most recent population survey on January 26.
An unknown number of newborn pups were killed earlier this month by storm-powered tidal surges, powerful waves, and beach erosion along Point Reyes’ coast, park officials said. The storms unfortunately hit at the same time pupping season usually beings. But marine ecologists are now seeing dozens of pregnant seals hauling onto Drakes Beach and giving birth to healthy pups.
Point Reyes is home to three large elephant seal colonies at Point Reyes Headlands, Drakes Beach, and South Beach. Population surveyors counted about 2,100 seals on January 26, a dramatic rise from 450 counted on January 6 when rain was still pouring over the area.
Park officials wrote, “Northern elephant seals are mysterious and unique creatures (who) spend 80 percent of their life in the open sea. Point Reyes National Seashore is one of the few places on the Pacific Coast where northern elephant seals may be observed and studied. Their semi-annual sojourns to the shores of Point Reyes provide a unique opportunity to glimpse the lives and behaviors of these elusive ocean giants.”
The public is invited to see the adorable baby elephant seals between 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily at a viewing area at Ken Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach.
Pups will stay very closer to their mothers until they are weaned in February. “After 25 to 30 days, pups finish nursing so their moms can return to the sea to forage,” park officials wrote. Elephant seals are born weighing between 60-75 pounds. By the time they are weened, the pups weigh 300 pounds.