Thursday, January 22, 2015

Carpinteria's Harbor Seal Rookery

Harbor seals are a common sight in California.  Found up and down the coast and on many docks of city marinas, at times they can be real pains in the you know what.  This rookery, located on a beach in Carpinteria, California, however, is a special place.  This is a seals only, humans not allowed place, despite it being next to a busy service dock for the oil rigs out in the channel.

The beach is closed from December l through May 31, during the "haul out", when pregnant females come ashore by the hundreds and give birth to their pups.  The docent told me he has counted up to 400 females in mid-February.  I was surprised the sanctuary was so close to the dock.

"These seals were here long before the loading dock was built," the docent told me.  "They weren't about to move."

I got a kick out of the sign:  No rapid movement.  No loud noise.   A big semi speeding across a wooden dock doesn't get much louder!  Or scarier.  And yet, the seals feel safe here.

It's not the easiest place to find.  Park in the Carpinteria Bluffs parking lot and take the trail to the right.  As it forks, go across the railroad tracks to the beach and this is where the sanctuary is.  This morning I made a note in my calendar to return next month.  "The births happen quickly," the docent told me, "But it's pure magic if you're lucky enough to witness it."

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