Cicely Muldoun, superintendent of the Point Reyes National Seashore, stands in front of Drakes Beach, where about 50 beached elephant seals have arrived for pupping season.

Jeffrey Schaub

Petition To Protect The "Surprise Seal Pups" on Drakes Beach

Jeffrey Schaub
February 06, 2019 - 7:06 pm

DRAKES BAY, CA (KCBS Radio) -- Organizers of an online petition called "These Surprise Seal Pups Must Be Protected!" have gathered more than 70,000 signatures asking park officials to keep visitors away from birthing elephant seals at Drakes Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Point Reyes Superintendent Cicely Muldoon took KCBS Radio out to the beach, where around 50 elephant seals set up an impromptu seal nursery while the public kept away during the government shutdown.

Muldoon pointed to large seal who was thrashing around, and said was “very pregnant” and ready to give birth. 

In a throwback to a time before humans starting visiting the seashore in droves, the soon-to-be mother and others took advantage of a beach emptied of the usual visitors to have their pups. They normally make their breeding grounds in more isolated locations along the coast.

“It’s actually providing a super cool new opportunity for us to get people up close to them while still protecting them,” Muldoon said.

But not everyone thinks so.

An organization called Care 2 has created an online petition, warning that public viewing could harm the seals. Muldoon disagrees.

“If they were here on the ground and knew the actual circumstances, they might actually change their mind about that,” she said. “We’re opening this only under very limited circumstances on weekends, when there’s a ton of staff and docents here to manage it.”

Overall, Muldoon says the elephant seals are a great testament to conservation, as they were once nearly hunted to extinction. 

“Of course, the most important thing is protecting the animals,” she said.