The best time of the year to visit Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery is NOW!

December 15th, 2015

Just 35 minutes north of Cayucos on Highway 1, exactly 26.6 miles is where you can find the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery.

The large bulls are just starting to arrive and are fighting to claim their dominance. A calloused shield and a thick layer of blubber protect the neck and chest area of a large bull. Fights can last from just a few minutes to half an hour, depending on how evenly matched the bulls are. It is quite a sight to see such large mammals grunting and proclaiming their territory against each other. The males can weigh up to 3,000 to 5,00 pounds and grow up to 14-16 feet in length. Adult Females are 9 to 12 feet in length and weigh between 900 and 1,800 pounds.

Pregnant females give birth to pups weighing 60-80lbs, Seagulls do their part and clean up the afterbirth. The peak of birthing season is January. Females are technically pregnant 11months and have a 7-month gestation. The reason for the difference in gestation to birth is that the fertilized egg does not implant in the wall of her uterus for about four months a rare phenomenon called "delayed implantation". The first pup of the season was born just a few weeks ago.

Here are some facts about Elephant Seals

  • Males can live up to 15 years and females 22 years
  • 1 in 6 pups lives to 4 years old
  • Females eat squid in the deep ocean.
  • Males eat bottom dwelling species such as rays, small sharks, and swallow the pray whole and digest within 6 hours.
  • Elephant Seals normally dive 1000 to 3000 feet but can go as deep as 5,800 feet.
  • Adult males spend 8-9 months at sea; females and juveniles spend 10 months. They spend about 90% of their time at sea under water
  • Sand flipping helps them keep cool on land by acting as sunscreen
  • There are always some elephant seals at the rookery
  • The large nose is a secondary sexual characteristic indicating physical and sexual maturity.
  • Piedras Blancas rookery is a great day trip for people of all ages, families, and curious minds that love to observe ocean mammals. There is handicap accessible parking in the most Northern parking lot. The trails are about .5 miles in length and there are knowledgeable docents wearing blue windbreakers available to answer questions. 

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