Meet Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal X810, an amazing 21-year old seal who has seen the oceans change dramatically over her lifetime!  

Our visitors often ask our docents, “How long do elephant seals live?”  The Friends of the Elephant Seal Community Science team recently observed this adult female northern elephant seal with white flipper tag X810 on the Piedras Blancas Viewing Area south beach. Long- term studies on northern elephant seals have reported that fewer than 1% of female northern elephant seals reach this age!

This 21-year old adult female northern elephant seal was just a pup, born in Winter, 2002.  In her lifetime, the Arctic sea ice has been melting at a rapid rate, the ocean has warmed and sea level has risen in her California coastal home. She has undoubtedly experienced flooding of her birthing beach during winter storms and faced the challenges of keeping her pups safe.

Plastic pollution in the ocean has more than doubled 3 times in her lifetime, reaching 21,000 pieces of plastic for each of earth’s 8 billion residents.  Future sea level rise is projected to accelerate, with projections  of  higher tides, storm surge flooding and destruction of coastal wetlands and billions of dollars in property damage.

We celebrate World Oceans Day in 2023 by honoring the long life of elephant seal X810 and the brave struggle of all marine life in challenging conditions.


The Friends of the Elephant Seal Board of Directors recently adopted a sustainability policy, to take action when and where we can to reduce our negative impact on the planet:


The Friends of the Elephant Seal organization commits to action aimed at achieving sustainability in all aspects of its operations. This will include but is not limited to actions related to slowing climate change, reducing plastic pollution, preserving and restoring biodiversity, and ensuring the world remains habitable for humankind.

Through the leadership of Friends of the Elephant Seal we will facilitate conversations about the importance of a healthy ecosystem and methods by which humans can take action to reduce negative impacts on the planet. We are one small non-profit organization, yet what we do makes a difference, especially considering our global reach.


The Board of Directors of the Friends of the Elephant Seal hereby commits to making sincere and ongoing efforts towards the adoption of sustainable choices in all aspects of our operation. This will include, but is not limited to the following practices:

  • Educating volunteers, staff, members and friends on the concept of sustainability and engaging with visitors to empower action towards a healthy planet.
  • Eliminating the use of PVC, polystyrene, single use plastic products and plastic packaging and other sources of persistent environmental pollution.
  • Adopting practices that result in waste diversion away from landfills.
  • Reducing energy consumption and utilizing clean energy sources as they become available.
  • Choosing sustainable, non-toxic office supplies and cleaning products
  • Procuring sustainable products (for sale as merchandise) that are made from renewable resources and whose production, distribution and/or consumption uses as little energy as possible and minimizes, then responsibly disposes of, waste. Environmentally preferable purchasing includes looking at the full life cycle of a product to assess its impact throughout its term of use and afterwards, when it is discarded.
  • Seeking vendors who partner with socially sustainable businesses that promote social justice through fair and equitable hiring practices, fair wages and healthy working conditions

We value your partnership and support.  Please support our mission to educate people about elephant seals and teach stewardship for the ocean. We hope you’ll JOIN US, become a member and put the oceans FIRST!   

Photo by Kathleen Curtis and David Lawrence

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