Lookery at the Rookery

by cheri block

In 1992, out of the blue, several elephant seals arrived at Piedras Blancas on the rugged central California coast. Why they chose this spot while on their migratory path down to Santa Barbara is still a mystery. Now, only 17 years later, should you drive three miles north of William Randolph Hearst’s garish castle, you will see a beach with thousands of shiny beasts, tonnage of grand proportion.

The mature males come in November to stake out their territory.

The pregnant females arrive in December to have their babies, conceived in last year’s prehistoric frolic in slow motion.

I visited the rookery today.

Hey, Babe, I'm in from Alaska and looking for a little love.

Forget it, lummox. Can’t you see I am in labor??

I missed the delivery by 15 minutes. Not the gulls!

Soon, new mother and child will join the others in their harem.

The teenagers have other things in mind.

Chiastic perfection

Oh come on. A little chiastic perfection, baby!

In his world, today at the rookery, all is perfect.

Until someone tries to take his babe away.

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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13 Responses to Lookery at the Rookery

  1. Phil says:

    …..William Randolph Hearst’s garish castle…..

    Garish perhaps; eclectic definitely; fascinating indubitably.

    Is it twelve years since last I visited? Time I went again.

  2. Cheri says:

    Have you been since they put in the iMax theatre?

    The movie about WRH’s life is, as you say, fascinating.

    • Phil says:

      I don’t remember the iMax theatre there.

      But I’ve read two biographies of Hearst – (EF?) Swanberg’s “Citizen Hearst”, which I found a veritable page-turner; and the much later, “The Chief”, by David Nasaw – not as exciting as “Citizen Hearst”, but more fully researched because it came out relatively recently.

      I find Hearst a fascinating character (among many other things he was a “mama’s boy”, as also was Douglas McArthur – fodder here for armchair psychologists) .

      Hearst’s life and times mirrored so much of the America of that period.

      Walking through Hearst’s Castle, I could almost see and hear the rich and powerful of the early twentieth century as they ate and conversed around the huge dining room table, and partied around the pool.

  3. andreaskluth says:

    “…The pregnant females arrive in December to have their babies, conceived in last year’s prehistoric frolic in slow motion….”

    So their pregnancy takes about a year?

    Fascinating place.

    I would have made a good elephant seal.

    • Cheri says:

      Well, A, let’s evaluate the life of a male elephant seal:

      You spend your early life sparing with other males, developing your warrior skills.

      When fully mature (in all ways), you take a cruise from Alaska to the beautiful California coast and hoist your virile body (all 2 tons of it) onto the beach.

      In one season, you mate with 50 girls. Not bad.

      Then, you rest. Rest. Rest. On the beach with your girls around you. You scoot yourself out to the ocean when you need your space.

      The women whom you impregnated last year deliver your progeny. You are a father! Your kids do not disturb your sleep or your new sex life.

      Very few males challenge your authority.

      What man could not be a studly elephant seal?

      This place is close to the spit… 🙂

  4. Kathy says:

    UGH. I lost you AGAIN! Hope you had a nice holiday Cheri 🙂

  5. The Sci-Fi Fanatic says:

    Lovely. Life is pretty perfect there. Let’s hope it is so for everyone here. Happy New Year Cheri and company.

  6. Cheri says:

    Thank you. Funny you would comment. I was just thinking of you several days ago, wondering how you and family were doing.

    I wish you a healthy and secure New Year.
    BTW, I saw the film Sherlock Holmes and loved it…some Sci-Fi in there…

  7. The Sci-Fi Fanatic says:

    Thanks Cheri for thinking of me. Family is great. Such a nice, sweet, quiet Christmas. Loved it. I hope you are well and yours.

    I’m definitely intrigued by Sherlock. Hope to see it soon. I still have to see Avatar and I think I’m taking my son tomorrow. I’ll let u know.

    All the best.

  8. andreaskluth says:

    I need one more piece of information:

    Of all male elephant seals, what are the odds of any one to have this life you sketch out? Ie, what are the odds of me hoisting only 1.99 tons of my virile body onto that beach, only to be ignominiously tossed back into the surf by the 2-tonner who’s already there?

    • Cheri says:

      Well, you will have to come visit this place someday.

      If you weigh 1.99 tons, you are a mature male. Young males (without such elongated noses) are all over the place, doing what young males do.

      In November, only the mature males arrive, the ones who will be the center of the universe for their females. These guys are big, developed, and seasoned. Many fights notch their necks.

      When I visited the rookery last weekend, about 25 big males had arrived. There is plenty of room on the beach.

      Young males spar with each other and try out the role, but as with evolution, only the Humphrey Bogarts of the group call the shots.

      The first pup was born on December 16 and the last of thousands will arrive by early March at the latest.

      By the end of March, 15000 elephant seals will be at Piedras Blancas.

      You can get 10 feet from them. The little ones will go crazy.

  9. Pingback: The Glorious Central Coast « Notes from Around the Block

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