This Might Be the Strangest Consequence of Shutdown

Seals take over beach in Northern California
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 31, 2019 11:41 AM CST
Seals Took Over a California Beach During the Shutdown
Elephant seals have expanded their pupping grounds in Point Reyes National Seashore, Calif.   (John Burgess/The Press Democrat via AP)

A colony of elephant seals took over a beach in Northern California during the government shutdown when there was no staff to discourage the animals from congregating in the popular tourist area, an official said. Now they're not going anywhere. About 60 adult seals that gave birth to 35 pups took over a beach in Point Reyes National Seashore, knocking down a fence and moving into the parking lot, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The park north of San Francisco is home to a colony of about 1,500 elephant seals that tend to frequent another beach with 100-foot-tall cliffs that keep the animals protected and mostly hidden from the public, said park spokesman John Dell'Osso.

Dell'Osso said it's likely recent storms and high tides inundated the animal's normal habitat with water and so they sought a wider swath of dry land around the corner, the AP reports. "Sometimes you go out with tarps and you shake the tarps and it annoys them and they move the other direction," he said. But since nobody was at work to address the seal migration, the animals took over. One seal even ventured under a picnic table near a cafe. The elephant seals were lounging in the sand after the park reopened Sunday, leading staff to temporarily close the road to the beach. Officials have no plans to move the animals while some of them nurse their pups. Staff is considering offering guided tours of the elephant colony, Dell'Osso said. (Determined seal snarls highway traffic.)

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