Park Wavelengths - February 2013
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The full moon rose Tuesday night this week with moderate high tides in the five foot range; they swell up to six feet as we move towards the new moon on March 10 and Daylight Savings hours.
Annual harbor seal protection measures begin Friday, March 1. Drakes and Limantour Esteros are closed to boating until June 30 during harbor seal pupping season. South Blue Gums Beach on Tomales Bay is closed to landings. During this sensitive period, do not approach pups on the beaches; pups are often left temporarily unattended while their parents are feeding and swimming nearby.
Northern elephant seal pups are gathering in "weaner pods." They have finished nursing and the females are returning to sea. Weaners will lose their darker pup fur and sport a silvery grey coat. Weaners will linger on beaches through early summer. As usual, researchers are tagging the weaned pups with pink tags to study movements and other patterns of elephant behaviors. Numbers are dropping and we look forward to northbound whales in the next few weeks.
Sunny weather and wildflowers greet March! Chimney Rock has violets along the lower edges of trails, iris are just getting started, and splashes of pink checkerbloom enliven the green background!
New nature photography is on display at Bear Valley Visitor Center from the Latino Photo project--seals to shorelines; oaks and tidepools!
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
A new moon on February 9 ushers in the Chinese Year of the Snake!
It's all about elephant seals! The year's count reached 1737 total with 719 pups. Fewer cows pupped at Drakes Beach. Instead, many cows began to use other sites around the park, such as pocket coves near Chimney Rock. The Chimney Rock viewing area is the place to catch all of the action with sparring bulls, pods of weaned pups, and plenty of activity in and out of the water. No wildflowers as of this week.
Few whale sightings in recent weeks. We will hope to see the northern migration in mid-March.
Salmon are also enjoying a good year. Heavy rains in December helped spawners move up the creeks, then mild weather in January allowed redds and eggs to rest undisturbed in creeks.
All park visitor centers are open on Monday, February 18, Presidents Holiday Weekend [sic The official name for the holiday on the third Monday of February is "Washington's Birthday." - Ed.]. Shuttles will operate to the Lighthouse and Chimney Rock if the weather is clear.
Did You Know?
Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) began breeding at Point Reyes in 1981 after being absent for over 150 years. The population breeds at terrestrial haul out sites at Point Reyes Headland, one of only eleven mainland breeding areas for northern elephant seals in the world. More...