Elephant seals lounging on Drakes Beach.
’During the government shutdown, while nobody was looking, a herd of elephant seals took over a popular California beach and forced authorities to close the area to visitors.
The opportunistic animals are iconic residents of Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County near San Francisco, where they can usually be seen lounging on the sand from afar.
But with National Park Service employees furloughed, and no one around to wrangle them, 50 to 60 seals moved into Drakes Beach, known by locals for its expansive shoreline and pristine views.
Had the shutdown not occurred, “we probably would have tried to move the seals further away from the parking area,” John Dell’Osso, chief of interpretation and resource education at Point Reyes National Seashore, told Motherboard in an email.
“This would be done by a standard practice of using tarps and waving them at the seals to the point where they turn around and go further down the beach,” Dell’Osso explained.
A mid-January storm, coupled with extreme tides called “king tides,” drove the seals away from Chimney Rock, a secluded point on the peninsula where the animals tend to congregate, Dell’Osso theorized.…’