Annual San Simeon Elephant Seal Schedule


Hunted nearly to extinction for their oil-rich blubber, elephant seals have made a remarkable comeback. Protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, they are expanding their range outward from remote islands and are now colonizing selected mainland beaches such as Piedras Blancas in the southern range of Big Sur, near San Simeon.

Elephant seals come ashore and form colonies for only a few months of each year to give birth, breed, and molt. The rest of the year the colonies disperse and individuals spend most of their time in pursuit of food, a quest which involves swimming thousands of miles and diving to great depths.

January
Female elephant seals continue to arrive on the shoreline. Peak of births usually are the last half of the month.

February
Elephant seal births continue. The peak of mating is around Valentine's Day. More females leave.

March
Last adult elephant seals leave.

April
Female and juvenile elephant seals return to molt.
 
May
Female and juvenile elephant seals molt.

June
Sub-adult male elephant seal return to molt.

July
Sub-adult and adult males molt.

August
Last adult elephant seals molt.

September
Young-of-the-year and juvenile elephant seals haul out to rest.

October
Young-of-the-year and juvenile elephant seals haul out to rest.

November
Subadult elephant seal males haul out. Mature males begin arriving at the end of the month.

December
Elephant seal bulls continue to return. Females arrive. The first birth is usually mid-month.