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Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135
Superintendent Don Neubacher announced today that elephant seals have returned to pup and breed on the beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore. Due to the presence of the seals, a temporary restriction to people and dogs is in place until the end of April from the South Beach parking lot, south. A temporary restriction at the southern end of Drakes Beach and beyond the Lifeboat Station is also in place.
This is only a temporary closure for the protection of elephant seals during the breeding and pupping season. The best viewing area for elephant seals is the overlook near the Chimney Rock parking lot. The elephant seals can be viewed from now until mid-March at which time the pups are weaned from their mothers and head out to sea. The viewing area for elephant seals is along the Elephant Seal Overlook Trail recently rehabilitated with financial assistance from the California Coastal Conservancy and Point Reyes National Seashore Association.
The first males have arrived and for the next month or so, the numbers of elephant seals returning to the beaches will continue to increase until the peak of births occurs in late January. During the 2008 breeding season the highest number of elephant seals in the headlands occurred on January 30th with around 1,500 animals counted.
Almost half of all of the elephant seals in the Point Reyes Headlands are easily visible on north Drakes Beach from the Elephant Seal Overlook. Elephant Seal Overlook continues to be a great place to view numerous bulls and larger males. Also visible from the overlook, are a handful of last breeding season’s pups which are recognized by their golden coats and are referred to as yearlings.
The annual shuttle bus program is currently in operation. Operating only on weekends and holidays until early April, the popular shuttle bus program runs from Drakes Beach to the Lighthouse and then on to Chimney Rock before returning to Drakes Beach. Park visitors need to purchase tickets at Drakes Beach on the day you intend to ride the buses from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. No advance reservations are required. The price is $5.00 for adults and children under 16 are free. The shuttle program will begin on Saturday, December 27, 2008.
Dogs will still be allowed on leash at North Beach, Kehoe Beach north, and the southern portion of Limantour Beach.