Saturday, February 20, 2010

Elephant Seals Viewing Site

We took so many pictures at Hearst Castle that I thought it necessary to show a couple more before moving on. The first picture shows some of the the garden design with its terraces and walkways.

Another picture is of the entrance to one of the guest houses. It does look like the type of  homes we saw when we were in southern Spain, but quite more elaborately decorated.
 Our guide for the tour of the Hearst Castle suggested that we drive about four miles north of the castle to look at the elephant seals.  It was not hard to find that particular beach because many people and cars were swarming around that area. There is a viewing platform overlooking this beach from which the seals can be seen. This is a good time to observe the seals because winter is the seal's important time to birth and breed. We saw the pups nursing and the papas doing their courting. It was a noisy place with many different sounds coming from the seals. The adult male has a hollow holler, to me it almost sounded like he is gargling.
 From the pups and females there were a lot of snorts and squawks. The females tended to bunch together and then fuss because they were being crowded.
With all that tension going on there seemed to be a lot of sand flipping, which can be a sign of stress. It was all quite an awesome and fascinating sight. It was also a bit smelly. There were carcasses of some pups who did not survive. Sea gulls seemed to enjoy attacking that meat. John did get a good picture of an adult male. They can weight up to two tons or more.The adult male has an impressive dangling nose- the proboscis that gives elephant seals their name. I think that the female next to him did not appreciate his presence!

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