Elephant seals at Drakes Beach

Photo credit: Point Reyes National Seashore

Meet the New Neighbors

Elephant Seals Colonize Drakes Beach

KCBS Radio Morning News
January 30, 2019 - 9:25 am

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) -- It appears the combination of the closure of a storm-damaged parking lot and reduced human presence during the recent government shutdown has turned Drakes Beach into a new neighborhood for elephant seals.

Drakes Beach is part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, where naturalists estimate some 2,000 elephant seals live in colonies generally confined to remote beaches.

But after a combination of storm runoff and "king tide"-related flooding forced the closure of the Drakes Beach parking lot and then visitor and ranger presence dropped sharply during the government shutdown, the beach started to attract pregnant elephant seals. 

There are now 35 to 40 elephant seal pups on Drakes Beach. "This is a very interesting opportunity that we've been dealt," said John Dell'Osso, public information officer at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Rangers plan to show off the new neighbors this weekend by allowing limited parking and guided visits to the new elephant seal nursery on Drakes Beach.