SciSchmooze Tour of the Elephant Seals at Ano Nuevo State Reserve
This is a special event for readers of the weekly SciSchmooze Newsletter from BayAreaScience.org. Come and meet editors Herb and Bob and take a tour of the Elephant Seal breeding grounds at Ano Nuevo State Reserve in Pescadero.
Reserve your space here and we will exchange your reservation for a ticket at the park on the day of the tour.
After being hunted almost to extinction in the nineteenth century, the Northern Elephant Seals have made a miraculous recovery. They now haul out for birthing and breeding on islands from the Farallones to Baja California, Mexico and a few mainland spots; one of which is Año Nuevo State Reserve on the San Mateo County coast.
Adult Elephant Seals begin arriving on the beaches by mid-December. Bulls, weighing up to 5,000 pounds, engage in battles for breeding access to the females. Pregnant females come ashore to have pups beginning in mid-December, with births reaching a peak by mid-January. The Elephant Seal mother nurses her pup for about a month before weaning her pup, mating, and going back to sea. Mating activity peaks by mid-February and by early March most adult seals have returned to the sea. During March, hundreds of weaned pups remain behind to rest in the dunes and to learn to swim in the tide pools. Since the early 1990's over two thousands pups have been born at Año Nuevo every year.
The walk will start from the Año Nuevo Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is in an old historical white barn directly south of the parking lot. The Visitor Center has a number of interpretive displays that are worth spending some time viewing. There is a 20-minute video about Año Nuevo that runs continuously in the adjacent Horse Barn and is worth watching. The Visitor Center sells post cards, books, T-shirts, etc.
There are picnic tables near the parking lot and near the Visitor Center if you want to "do lunch" there. No food or drink (other than water) allowed on the walk. Pets are not allowed in the Reserve. Pets cannot be left inside parked vehicles in the parking lot. Kennels are not available.
The three-mile walk, over rolling sand dunes, lasts about two and one half to three hours and is considered moderately strenuous. You should prepare for an outdoor hiking adventure that may include high winds, heavy rains, and cold temperatures. Recommended clothing includes hooded rain gear and sturdy walking shoes. If you bring a hat, be sure it can be secured so that it will not blow off and disrupt the seals. For safety reasons, use of umbrellas is not permitted on the walks. Dress in layers, including a waterproof outer layer because the weather can get stinky. Or, it could be lovely. You can never tell by the weather on the Bay side of the mountains or in Half Moon Bay. Año Nuevo seems to have its own weather. It is better to bring too much, not need it and leave it in your vehicle than vice versa. Pack a pair of dry shoes and socks to change into after the walk if it has been raining in the last few days (we get some big puddles on the paths). We go rain or shine. Bring cameras and binoculars.
Año Nuevo State Reserve is on the coast on Highway 1, 30 miles south of Half Moon Bay, 20 miles north of Santa Cruz. The Reserve is 6 miles south of Pigeon Point lighthouse. Allow ample driving time for traffic and sightseers, especially on weekends. The Reserve will charge you $10.00 per automobile for parking.
Ano Nuevo State Reserve (View)
1 New Years Creek Rd
Pescadero, CA 94060
|Kid Friendly: Yes!|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|