Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

elephant seals

Experience more than 23,000 of the largest seals in the northern hemisphere along a 6-mile stretch of coastline at the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery! Located just 10 minutes from the rookery, Broughton’s boutique hotel the Morgan is the perfect place to stay for a weekend getaway in San Simeon.


About the Elephant Seal

The northern elephant seal is the largest seal in the northern hemisphere and second largest seal in the world. Adult males measure 14-16ft in length and weigh in around 4,000-5,000lbs, whereas adult females are much smaller: measuring 9-12ft in length and weighing around 900-1,800lbs. Elephant seals derive their name from their great size and the male’s large nose, which serves to intimidate other males through both its size and effect on their loud challenge call while competing for females.


Elephant seals spend 8 to 10 months of the year out in the open ocean, coming to shore only twice a year: in the winter for birthing and breeding season and in the late spring/early summer to molt and grow new fur. The birthing and breeding season takes place December through March, with a majority of males arriving in December to lay claim to a section of the beach and assert their dominance through intimidation and an occasional battle. The majority of pregnant females arrive in January and give birth a few days later. Females nurse their pups for 4 weeks, and during the last week of nursing they go into estrous and copulate with the males in the dominance group. Shortly thereafter, the mother goes to sea: leaving her pup behind.


March is a very active month at the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery. If you arrive at the beginning of the month, you may still be able to catch the seals in the birthing and breeding season. At the end of March, the molting season begins and the seals begin to return to the beach. Three-quarters of a million visitors from all over the world travel to the rookery to experience these magnificent animals. Come visit the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery and speak to a docent with Friends of the Elephant Seal to learn more!


Additional Information



Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

Where: Santa Barbara, CA

When: March 1st-31st

Admission: Free



Where to Stay


The Morgan

A boutique jewel nestled along California’s scenic Central Coast, the Morgan welcomes you with a warmth and personality all its own. As the favorite choice in Hearst Castle hotels, The Morgan at San Simeon is located only 4 miles from the Visitor Center. 9135 Hearst Drive, San Simeon, CA, 93452. 805.927.3878.