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group of elephant seals on a sandy beach
In the News

New York Times: How California's Elephant Seals Made a Remarkable Recovery

March 16, 2023
  • Natural history

Hunted nearly to extinction, northern elephant seals, native to the waters off the West Coast, now number more than 175,000.

Published in The New York Times: March 16, 2023

Before summiting the slippery beachside dunes, wind-whipped sand spraying my face, I could hear what was on the other side.

Raspy grunts, high-pitched mews, guttural barks and the occasional roar bellowed toward my group of hikers at Año Nuevo State Park, a remote strip of coastal bluffs about 60 miles south of San Francisco. Once we crossed over to the wide sandy beach, the source of the commotion became obvious: hundreds of elephant seals, their slick blubbery bodies splaying out on the land or flopping into the chilly waters of the Pacific.

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header image: photo © Luiza Naslausky

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natural history
Adam Ratner
Northern Elephant Seal