Año Nuevo (8/5/04)
(Image: Northern elephant seal)
What to Bring.
will need money to park ($5.00) and to cross the San Mateo Bridge ($3 .00).
food is available. Half Moon Bay is the last place to get food.
takes two hours to get there from here.
Where to Go.
580 to 238. Take 238 west to 880 south.
880 south to 92 (San Mateo Bridge).
92 to Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay.
1 south to Año Nuevo.
Nuevo = new year
Indians came here.
are the remains of a dairy.
were used for brussel sprouts.
Gregorio Fault runs through it.
at Año Nuevo at various times of the year or present year round
attempt to organize the natural world by imposing a classification system
are grouped into domains, kingdoms, phyla, classes, orders, families and
genus is the least inclusive category.
large eyes, flippers.
lions and fur seals. Family Otariidae.
seals and elephant seals. Family Phocidae.
Northern Elephant Seals
10-12 feet, 2000 lbs.
14-16 feet, 6000 lbs. (Image: Male Northern Elephant Seal)
span - 14 years for males, 20 for females.
bred from Baja to Pt. Reyes.
for oil - 210 gallons of high quality oil from one bull.
in lighting, as a lubricant, for tanning, in paint, soap.
Smithsonian found 9, killed 7.
of Guadalupe (off Baja), less than 100 survived.
first seen on Año Nuevo Island.
breed as far north as Pt. Reyes.
Dominance hierarchy - most aggressive (alpha) male mates with the most
females. (Image: mating male and female seals)
of males inseminate 85% of the females.
arrive in December at Año Nuevo.
arrive several weeks later (January) and give birth to pups that were conceived
the previous year. Only one pup is born per female.
3-4 weeks. Milk is 55% fat. (Cow's milk is 4%.)
breeds (about 24 days after birth) and leaves.
implantation of embryo. Allows female to regain weight before fetus
starts to grow.
Pup grows from 75 lbs to 250-350 lbs when weaned.
born the following year in January.
demonstrate very aggressive behavior.
females and move with them along the beach.
away males that approach harem.
crush pups while defending harem.
males attempt to mate with females as they return to
the sea and even with weaned pups ("weaners"), dead adults, yearlings
and subadult males.
leave in March-April.
stay until April-May.
most of the year at sea alone.
male went from San Miguel Island off Santa Barbara to Alaska twice
in one year.
seals are born with dark hair which absorbs heat
and helps to keep the pups warm. They lose this at about
one month and become silvery brown. (Image: young pup)
molt in spring, summer.
is catastrophic. They lose large patches of skin and hair.
using pelvic muscles and rear flippers. Front flippers are kept close
dive over 4000 ft. Depth gauges have been attached to seals.
day and night, nonstop.
Eat squid, skates, rays, rat fish, small sharks.
carnivore teeth. Look at the skull on display.
feeding may explain recovery from near extinction. Few predators or
competitors for food.
2 1/2 times blood of humans relative to weight and a high red blood cell
oxygen storing capacity.
and females have a different appearance.
Large chest shield protects male from bites by other males. (Image: male
seal, showing large chest)
and killer whales. Great white sharks are found off Año Nuevo.
for insulation. Hair does not insulate well at depth.
blood away from body surface when swimming. On land, blood is circulated
to the skin to radiate heat to the air.
Coat themselves with sand. (Image: seal coating itself with sand)
by males defending harem. Attacked by females. Drown.
if separated from mother.
in "weaner pods" possibly for protection from males after being weaned.
steal milk and some are adopted by another mother
to become "superweaners" who
may weigh 600 lbs.
to swim and what to eat on their own.
A "weaner" is shown below. (Image: a "weaner" pup)
are descended from less than 100 individuals.
population lacks genetic diversity.
ability to survive changes in the environment.
the Año Nuevo State Reserve web site and
read the sections on elephant seals and marine
life. Look under "related links"