Thursday, 7 February 2019

Elephant seals take over beach left vacant by US shutdown


An understaffed stretch of California coastline has new residents: nearly 100 elephant seals and their pups
Alissa Greenbergin Point Reyes, California
Sat 2 Feb 2019 11.00 GMTLast modified on Tue 5 Feb 2019 13.00 GMT
During the US government shutdown, understaffed national parks were overrun by careless visitors. But at one spot in California, the absence of rangers meant a takeover by a horde of a different sort: a massive group of boisterous elephant seals.
Almost 100 females and their pups, plus a handful of three-ton males, have made a temporary home at the popular Drakes Beach at Point Reyes national seashore, 30 miles north of San Francisco. They have spilled into the parking lot, sheltering under picnic tables and crushing wooden railings under their weight. Their presence means that the beach is now off-limit to humans.
After working so hard to bring the pinnipeds back from extinction, closing the beach and access road was an easy decision, said John Dell’Osso, the head of interpretation and resource education at Point Reyes. “They’re at a critical time: the pups have been born there, they’re nursing. We’re not going to disrupt that process.”

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