Friday, January 21, 2011

20.


Not exactly an accidental observation, noted by attentive presence in the moment.
At few other places on Earth can one watch and listen to hundreds of northern elephant seals besides
Año Nuevo Point

Birthing, nursing, establishing mating dominance, but mostly conserving energy and lolling around on the beach like fat slugs on winter holidays.




4 comments:

Beth said...

And the sounds they make! And their smell!

Spongebelly said...

My deliberate white space between "watch" and "listen" was the remarkable absence of the odor one might expect on the edge of such a congregation. The only ones eating on land are the pups, who grow from 60-70 pounds at birth to 300 pounds a month later! Their mothers, exhausted, very hungry and by then pregnant again, slip out to sea, abandoning the weaned pups to go deep sea fishing. Dads and wannabe dads are already gone on their own solitary fishing trips by then. With the majority of the biomass on the beach not eating, there is much less waste and smell than you would imagine from your experience with harbor seal or sea lion encampments.

Beth said...

Hadn't seen your reply...we were at Ano Nuevo a number of years ago in the summer, and the stench was staggering...maybe it was just the wind that day!

Spongebelly said...

Fascinating. I fully expected to be blown away by the odor of so many huge mammals, and the absence of smell was almost the most striking thing in this remarkable place. I fabricated a reason that seemed to make sense. Now I'll have to go back on a warm, still day to savour the whole experience. I understand the gathering is more spread out for the summer molting than in the winter mating season.