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Contact: John A. Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135
Annual recreational closures to protect pupping harbor seals at Point Reyes National Seashore go into effect on Thursday, March 1, 2018. The closures are in Drakes Estero and the westernmost point of Limantour Spit, and remain in effect through June 30, 2018. 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 approximately 6,000 seals. 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, 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.
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: April 5, 2019