ELEPHANT SEAL VIEWING GUIDELINES AT WILLIAM R. HEARST MEMORIAL BEACH
WHY ARE ELEPHANT SEALS ON THIS BEACH?
The elephant seals on William R. Hearst Memorial Beach are mostly young male seals- the bachelors-who have been driven off other beaches in the rookery by more dominant male seals. They often arrive with injuries from fights. They are seeking safe refuge on the beach and want to rest undisturbed.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
When seals are disturbed, they are unable to get the rest they need for their survival. In addition, since they are fasting, any extra movement causes them to spend precious energy stores responding to people or their pets. Constant disturbance can have a negative effect on their well-being.
Elephant seals are wild animals. By approaching them, you are not only disturbing the seal, you are also endangering yourself, your family and your pets. Please view from a distance.
ELEPHANT SEAL VIEWING GUIDELINES
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. People and their pets are in danger when walking close to an alert seal, walking between two seals, walking between a seal and the ocean or being in or close to the water when seals are present. Elephant seals are not always easy to see and blend into the sand!
- Stay at a distance. Instead of walking close by or between seals, use binoculars or a telephoto lens, or take photos from the pier. If a seal lifts his head to look at you, you have disturbed him and you are too close. Your photograph comes at a cost to the seal. Plus, you can get some great photographs from the pier.
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times. Elephant seals have large, sharp teeth and can bite. They carry bacteria that can cause very serious infections for humans and pets. For your pet’s safety, do not ever allow your dog to approach a seal, regardless of how inactive the seal seems.
- Keep your voice down. Elephant seals have ears and can hear you. Loud noises disturb resting seals. Do not shout or call out to each other on the beach. Take care to talk in a low volume or whisper while near the seals. If your dog is barking, please leave the beach.
- Move slowly and minimize your body movements. Elephant seals have excellent eyesight and can see you. Avoid running and making large arm movements, like waving and pointing. Seals may interpret your movements as threatening. Move calmly to a safe distance if seals are approaching you.
- Do not touch seals or throw objects into the water at seals. These actions disturb resting seals. The Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits harassment of all marine mammals.
- Leave your drone at home. This is a no-drone zone.
- Consider the seal’s perspective. How would you feel being interrupted constantly while you lay on the beach? How would you respond to loud noises, barking dogs and movement all around you? How would you react to someone causing you harm? Please allow the seals to rest undisturbed.
TO REPORT HARASSMENT:
All marine mammals are protected by federal law. It is illegal for unauthorized persons to touch, harass or prompt a seal in any way to change its natural behavior.
If you witness harassment, please call:
State Parks Ranger: (805) 927-2068
Friends of the Elephant Seal