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  1. Default Traffic on Coast Highway north of Hearst Castle..

    This is from an article in today's LA Times (link)...

    If you're interested in the article, click the link. Otherwise, here are the first couple of paragraphs of the 2 page (on the web site) article.

    ----------------------------------------------
    Where blubber meets the road
    Elephant seals are sneaking past beach fences meant to protect them from busy California 1.

    By Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    February 4, 2008

    SAN SIMEON, CALIF. -- This time each year, hundreds of croaking, roaring, shrieking elephant seals gather to breed and give birth on the rocky shoreline below Hearst Castle.

    The boisterous annual show draws hordes of tourists to a boardwalk 15 feet above, where they can watch the enormous pinnipeds tend the shiny black pups, squabble over beach space and battle for the right to mate.

    But this year, the traffic jams near the Piedras Blancas birthing grounds aren't being caused just by curious motorists.

    Some of the seals are sneaking past barbed-wire fences designed to protect them, then flopping on blubbery bellies right across California 1.

    Their dangerous behavior has police and seal-lovers worried.

    "When a 4,700-pound pickup truck meets a 5,000-pound seal, they both lose," said Ken Cumings, a docent with Friends of the Elephant Seal who has watched the events unfold

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    10,060

    Default Five times the size of mature Elk bull?

    "When a 4,700-pound pickup truck meets a 5,000-pound seal, they both lose," said Ken Cumings, a docent with Friends of the Elephant Seal who has watched the events unfold

    At least, the bull Elephant seal is not as tall as an Elk -- but when one thinks about the damage a mature Elk can inflict on a car (1000 pounds tops) and a bull Elephant seal weighs five times that.... Wow, not a pretty picture.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default I'd rather have tall

    It seems a tall elk would be easier to spot than a Elephant seal laying down. But, either one....yikes!

    Maybe they need to reinforce those fences!

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    It seems a tall elk would be easier to spot than a Elephant seal laying down. But, either one....yikes!

    Maybe they need to reinforce those fences!

    Having just "discovered" the elephant seal colony area in early November, while road-tripping south from Monterey to Ventura, I can estimate it's a daunting task. The stretch of beach where they congregate is perhaps 800 to 1,000' long and is nowhere more than about 100' from Highway 1. There is as little as 40' distance from the roadway at places. There were dozens of seals lying about on the beach on 8 November when we passed by and stopped for a while, and the docent on duty stated "only the small juveniles are here now. There will be hundreds and hundreds of bulls by late January/early February". They're huge animals which would have little trouble crushing a standard chain-link fence. Plus, they can simply go around it. Given the proximity to San Simeon and the fact that a fence would mar the view of the ocean from Highway 1, I suspect little consideration would be given to building stronger a larger/stronger fence to deal with a temporary, if annual, problem.

    Foy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default It does sound like a problem

    I suppose they might want to use steel cross rails instead of chain-link? I have a feeling you're right. But I hope it doesn't take a death or severe injury and a lawsuit to get them to try to do something proactive to resolve this problem.

  6. #6

    Default You're right on one point Judy

    It's certainly possible to strengthen the fencing. Adding lots of length to it (to discourage the seals from going around it) poses a number of other problems: How far to extend it? They can simply go around the extended fenceline. Appearance? That section of the highway is very open and a barrier would stick out like a sore thumb. Effects on seal behavior? The appearance of elephant seals colonizing that particular location is a fairly recent event. It appears much is being done to encourage them to continue to use the site. I wonder if barriers restricting their movement would encourage them to go elsewhere.

    It's complicated, but it's also a seasonal issue. A few weeks a year is supposedly the worst of it.

    Foy

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