NileGuide Expert Says:
Watching 4000 pound seals bludgeon each other with their colossal bodies is a once in a lifetime experience. Breeding season at Año Nuevo, timed perfectly for winter break, is an event that could never possibly forget.
Año Nuevo State Reserve
Half Moon Bay, CA 94060
NileGuide Expert tip:
Book a guided seal walk well in advance (56 days is the maximum) online. They sell out quickly and when the action is good, it's the best way to get a view.
Fifty-five miles south of San Francisco and the Golden Gate, a low, rocky, windswept point juts out into the Pacific Ocean. The Spanish maritime explorer Sebastian Vizcaino sailed by the point on January 3, 1603, and his diarist named it Punta de Año Nuevo, memorializing the New Year. Nowadays, every winter, throngs of people show up at this California State park and preserve to witness one of the most stunningly grotesque and fascinating natural spectacles in the United States.
Año Nuevo is home to the largest mainland breeding colony of Northern Elephant Seals in the world, and each winter they gather in massive numbers to breed. These massive animals were hunted to near extinction in the 19th century, but have made a remarkable recovery, and now more than 2000 pups are born at Año Nuevo every year. The real excitement begins in early December as male Elephant Seals, who can weigh up to two and half tons
(!!!) come ashore and battle for dominance.