The Friends of the Elephant Seal is now recruiting volunteers to become seasonal guides for the Winter Program at William R. Hearst Memorial Beach in San Simeon.  As a cooperating association with California State Parks, the Friends of the Elephant Seal collaborates to educate the public about elephant seals and other marine life in the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery.

The “bachelors” (young male elephant seals) on Hearst Memorial Beach are in a challenging situation. These young seals have often been in fights and arrive with bites and bruises, having been chased off nearby rookery beaches by more dominant male seals. They choose this beach to haul out for refuge and recovery.  At the peak of the season there are over 20 seals, each weighing 3000 to 5000 lbs., resting on the beach. The seals often aggressively defend their territory as new seals arrive. 

This popular public beach also welcomes hundreds of visitors and their pets on busy holiday weekends, which presents risks to both the resting seals and the public. Visitors are often unaware of the seals’ needs to rest undisturbed or the potential for aggressive elephant seal behavior. Winter Guides provide education for beach visitors to prevent disturbances to the seals and to ensure public safety.

Guides are asked to commit to two 4-hour shifts per month from late December through mid-March, 2022.  The Friends of the Elephant Seal will provide training, guidance and materials throughout the program. Guides must be friendly, outgoing and able to stand for 3 to 4 hours and walk on the beach in a variety of weather conditions.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about elephant seal behavior in a unique environment.  Seasonal residents, weekend travelers, couples, students and full-time employees are encouraged to apply for this short-term volunteer experience. 

Be part of the effort to help the general public safely enjoy wildlife and learn about the amazing elephant seals.  Go to  https://elephantseal.org/become-a-docent/ and fill out an application by November 15 to become a Winter Guide.  Questions?  Call 805-924-1628.  Must be 18 or older.

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