When the Point Reyes National Seashore was forced to close during the record 35-day government shutdown, visitors weren’t allowed in the area and furloughed park rangers weren’t on patrol. That’s when a colony of elephant seals took over Drakes Beach, forcing it’s closure for the near future.
Point Reyes is known for its brimming marine wildlife that dominates the park, but they typically stay in their protected beaches near 100-foot cliffs when visitors are in the area. Due to nearly 35 days without any human in sight, the colony of 1,500 seals took it upon themselves to reclaim the beautiful beach.
The beach is typically empty of all seal presence, but park rangers returned from their furloughs to find 60 adults and 35 pups lounging on the beach. Officials think that the recent storms and high tides pushed the seals on the beach during their birthing season. But since the birthing happened on the beach, there’s no safe way for officials to move the seals back to their regular living area.
Although the beach remains closed to the public, officials are considering doing guided tours of the seal area from a far away location. This could safely give the public a glimpse into their lives.