Annual Closures at Point Reyes National Seashore for 2017 Harbor Seal Pupping Season

Two adult harbor seals on a sand bar and a harbor seal pup nursing from the seal on the left.

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News Release Date: March 1, 2017

Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135

Annual recreational closures to protect pupping harbor seals at Point Reyes National Seashore go into effect on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. The closures are in Drakes Estero and the westernmost point of Limantour Spit, and remain in effect through June 30, 2017. Park rangers ask visitors to respect the closure and stay at least 100 yards (300 feet) away from resting seals. Visitors should never pick up a seal pup. Although they may appear abandoned, seal pups are most likely waiting for their mother to return. Pups are about two feet long and weigh about 24 pounds and are weaned 30 days after birth. If you are concerned about a particular seal, please contact park staff at one of the visitor centers.

Point Reyes National Seashore has one of the largest concentrations of breeding harbor seals on the mainland of California, with a population of 3080 in 2016. Resting and pupping harbor seals come onshore in various parts of the park particularly in Tomales Bay, Tomales Point, Double Point, Drakes Estero, and Bolinas Lagoon. Each year, seals congregate within the Seashore to give birth on sandbars and remote beaches.

All recreational water access in Drakes Estero is closed during this season. The closure applies to kayaks and canoes, and is applicable to surfers, windsurfers, paddle boards, and other water sport users around harbor seal colonies. All access to the westernmost point of Limantour Spit is also closed. (Map 148 KB PDF) Hog Island in Tomales Bay is closed during this same time period for nesting and roosting seabirds such as double-crested cormorants and brown pelicans.

Restoration activities within Drakes Estero will continue. Since August, contractors have removed 5 miles of wooden oyster racks and disposed of more than 750,000 pounds of marine debris, including treated wood, plastic tubes, metal stringers, oyster bags, cement anchors, and plastic mats. Beginning March 1, no work will be conducted within ¼ mile of sensitive harbor seal haul out and pupping areas. Contractors are now completing final bottom debris removal from areas beneath the racks. We anticipate completion of the restoration in April 2017. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for up-to-date restoration information.

Harbor seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and it is unlawful to disturb them while they are resting onshore. Nesting seabirds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (text and guide).


Last updated: November 20, 2022

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1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


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