Morro Bay - A Wildlife Hotspot

A guide to Morro Bay, California

Curious California sea otters, migrating Monarch butterflies and awkward heron fledglings can all be seen in the rich coastal ecosystem of Morro Bay.





California Sea Otter wrapped in bull kelp, Morro Bay, CA
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   PIEDRAS BLANCAS BEACH

Northern Elephant Seals are back in a big way at Piedras Blancas. The seals began colonizing this beach near San Simeon, California in 1990, and thousands now breed here from December through February each year.

E
lephant Seals once faced extinction:  Seal oil was a valued commodity and hunters pursued the seals even as their numbers plummeted.  Legal protection helped the seals recover, and they now have established breeding sites from Baja California to Point Reyes.  

On land, elephant seals often appear  awkward and lethargic.  But let them dive into the ocean and they become gifted atheletes, holding the depth diving record for air breathing mammals. 


WHAT TO SEE:

Elephant seals aren't the only mammals to benefit from the coastal habitat at Piedras Blancas. 
Bobcats, brush rabbits, California ground squirrels, coyotes and black-tailed deer are also present. 

And the California coast from Cambria to Ragged Point is also a birding hotspot.  Watch for bald
eagles, brown pelicans, terns, snowy plovers, sandpipers, black oystercatchers, woodpeckers, wintering hawks and songbirds. 


       
In winter months, check the pines at San Simeon State Park for overwintering Monarch butterflies.
  
 

                                                    

  BEST TIMES TO VISIT

Northern Elephant Seals are present at Piedras Blancas year round, but their numbers are reduced during the fall haul-out. 

WHERE TO STAY

You can chose from bed and breakfasts, motels and secluded resorts in Cambria and San Simeon.  Chamber of Commerce Accomodation List.  Or you can camp at San Simeon State Park.

San Simeon Creek Campground has 115 sites, and campers have access to flush toilets and coin- operated showers.  Primitive campsites are available at Washburn Campground overlooking the Santa Lucia mountains and the Pacific Ocean.  Chemical toilets and water spigots are provided.


OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST

Hearst Castle, once the estate of William Randolph Hearst, is now a National Landmark and designated State Historical Monument open for public tours..
 

SLIDE  SHOW

Northern Elephant Seals

DIRECTIONS TO SEAL COLONY:

Using Hearst Castle as your landmark, follow Highway 101 north for 4.4 miles to an oceanside parking lot.


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Images of California Sea Otters and Morro Rock copyright Steven Holt/stockpix.com.   All rights reserved.