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Elephant Seals of the California Coast

Why a Wonder: Photographers who visit this site will get to experience one of nature's grandest wildlife spectacles right in front of their eyes. Convenient access provides for up close and personal views of thousands of elephant seals as they gather on this beach to breed and give birth to newborn pups. The large male elephant seals (bulls) often enter into battle with each other, the winner of which gets mating rites to a harem of females.

Where: Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery is located directly off of California Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway), just a few miles north of the town of San Simeon.

When: The best time to visit is in the winter months, preferably from mid December through early February. This is the time of year when the greatest number of seals appear on the beach and the most activity occurs.

Photography: There is a wooden walkway directly above the beach allowing photographers to set up and observe the seals as they go about their daily activities. I recommend going there earlier in the day as it is less crowded (and much less windy), allowing one to use a tripod for stability. If there are many people around and a tripod is too intrusive I recommend using the railing for support, or just hand holding your camera if you are comfortable doing that. It is also helpful to carry two camera bodies, one with a wide to medium telephoto zoom, and the other with a mid range to long zoom. This way you can easily capture images of the entire beach full of seals, along with images of individual seals interacting with each other.

Learn More: For more detailed information regarding the elephant seals of this area please visit this website:

© Ted P. Forman:

This post sponsored by Adorama.

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