Friday, February 4, 2011
Eye contact, Año Nuevo State Reserve
A large bull elephant seal glancing my way at Año Nuevo State Reserve. This big bloke didn't seem to mind us being on the beach with him, which is no surprise since he received a steady stream of visitors, but he periodically wanted to check where we were. For these shots, he was turned to face the trail that came down to the beach, and was displaying as new visitors arrived around the bend (I suppose he wanted to make it clear that he's the owner of this territory). After showing off for them, he often would glance back our way to make sure that he knew where we were. There was one time when my wife had gone a bit further down the beach to check out the really cool fossil-filled rocks there, and he glanced over backwards like this in my direction. When he saw only me, he noticeably started scanning the beach until his gaze found her location, and then he put his head down and closed his eyes again. Just keeping tabs on the visitors in his domain, I suppose.
It's fascinating to see such a large animal like this (the northern elephant seal is the second largest seal species in the world, smaller than only the southern elephant seal) be so flexible. It's not so surprising to see the much smaller harbor seal contort its back, or certainly a California seal lion, but it's pretty incredible to see one of these brutes bend over backwards.