collective action

This Beach Belongs to the Elephant Seals Now

Elephant seals.
Elephant seals on Drakes Beach. Photo: John Dell’Osso/AP/REX/Shutterstock

While some of the country’s most powerful humans were busy arguing like a bunch of babies, a huge colony of rowdy elephant seals overtook a California beach that they have now successfully claimed as their own.

At least 50 seals partook in this inspiring show of collective action during the record-long government shutdown earlier this month, seizing the opportunity to reclaim the touristy Drakes Beach on the Point Reyes National Seashore as their own. The massive mammals (they can get up to 4,500 pounds!) used their gargantuan size to take down a fence and occupy a parking lot, forcing park staff to later close both the beach and a road.

“Sometimes you go out with tarps and you shake the tarps and it annoys them and they move the other direction,” John Dell’Osso, the chief of interpretation and resource education for the seashore, told SFGate of their usual methods of deterring the large animals. “It doesn’t scare them, and it’s a standard technique used with elephant seals. This would have kept them farther away from tourists.”

Dell’Osso believes that the seals were most likely seeking out dry land, as recent storms and high tides had inundated their normal habitat, Chimney Beach, with seawater. And, since the seals were able to pull off this impressive feat — and the 50 to 60 adults have already had 35 pups in their new home — the park has kindly decided to let them stay.

Solidarity with the raucous seals, and congratulations on their big win.

This Beach Belongs to the Elephant Seals Now