Friends of the Elephant Seal
Friends of the Elephant Seal is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, dedicated to educating people about elephant seals and other marine life and to teaching stewardship for the ocean off the central coast of California. As a local organization with a global reach in providing educational, scientific, historic and scenic opportunities, we foster safe and respectful viewing of elephant seals and marine life along the Central Coast of California.
The elephant seal colony at Point Piedras Blancas, 7.7 miles north of San Simeon, California has experienced phenomenal growth in less than 30 years. Since the first pup was born in February, 1992, the colony has grown to an estimated 25,000 elephant seals along an 8+-mile stretch of coastline. Friends of the Elephant Seal formed in 1997 with the goal of providing information and education about the elephant seals. Docents at the viewing areas answer questions and help visitors get the most from their viewing experience. Public safety and respect for the seals are prime considerations. Outreach programs extend our reach through a speakers bureau, school programs, internships, community science projects and a variety of online resources. Our San Simeon-based Visitor Center and Gift Shop provides both educational exhibits and unique elephant seal-themed gifts and souvenirs.
Friends of the Elephant Seal serves an important function in assisting federal and state wildlife agencies in the protection of elephant seals and in promoting safe and responsible wildlife viewing practices. We are proud to be a cooperating association with California State Parks and to work closely with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the Marine Mammal Center, and the Piedras Blancas Light Station Association. University collaborators include California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; University of California, Santa Cruz and Pepperdine University.
Improvements at the vista points have enhanced the viewing experience with wheelchair accessible boardwalks built by the California Conservation Corps with support from the California Coastal Conservancy, interpretive signs provided by California State Parks and parking lot improvements by the California Department of Transportation.
Elephant seals usually return to mate on the same beaches where they were born. As more pups are born almost every year, the colony continues to grow. As the colony grows, interest in it grows as well. Over a million visitors, from all over the world, come every year and our 100 docents talk with more than 200,000 of them.
Visitors A Year
Join Our Team
Become A Docent
As a docent with the Friends of the Elephant Seal, you will join a team of volunteers who share the fascinating life story of the northern elephant seal with visitors from around the world. Our docents are friendly, outgoing guides that work independently with visitors. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.
Become A Member
Our members share our passion for the elephant seals and respect for the wonders of the natural marine environment. To cover FES costs, we rely on grants, sponsorships, memberships, and your donations. Become a member today!
Your donation helps FES fund the invaluable docent program, as well as other community outreach, research and public awareness programs. You can even set up an automatic monthly donation, which supports our regular programs, as well as special efforts to protect and research the elephant seals throughout the year.