On a walk today on the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail ("Rec Trail"), the waves were big and sloshy, flopping and sliding up onto the shoreline. They chugged in to the rock and sand margins of land like an old car with its gears slipping.
Just as loose and lazy was a beach full of harbor seals, whose fat torpedo-like bodies were covered in thick spotted coats. There were about a hundred of them at the Hopkins Marine Station's protected cove, lying one next to another. Their limpid eyes peered up at us once in a while, head lifted just long enough for a look and then flopping down again with a sigh. Flippers stretched languidly and regular deep up-and-down motions of their sides showed how contentedly they were resting.
The bay was dark blue and choppy from a brisk breeze that stirred up the surface in gusts but not so bad that anyone was kept from a pleasant walk along the trail. We headed from Pacific Grove on the mile or less of flat curving walk. Out goal was the American Tin Cannery building where we enjoyed a hearty brunch at the First Awakenings restaurant, one of our usual breakfast places.
The waitress mentioned, after we told her about the surf, that a scientist from the Marine Station had spotted elephant seals hauling up on the beach there, an unusual occurrence. Staff there have hopes that the large animals will make the cove a regular haunt so that they can be studied and protected. The Station is a jut of land where a collection of buildings houses labs and libraries for grad students from Stanford to learn about marine life.
Once we were full to the brim with our meal, we walked back along the trail and took a good long look at the seals to see if we could spot the larger species. None were to be seen, but the harbor seals were fine looking and very well fed.
More seals surfed in, sliding up on the beach on their bellies and then humping up to higher ground where they simply stopped to sun themselves for a while. If a bigger wave rushed up to them, they simply lifted their heads and tail flippers up, barely inconvenienced by the swishing ocean water. Every so often, one or two seals would ride a large rush of water back out into the little cove and take stock of the day with their heads periscoping around, eyes blinking calmly.
Just watching the seals made me sleepy, and I developed a lethargy that only a nap could cure. Must have been the blueberry-wheatgerm pancake I'd eaten, but I'd rather blame the somnolent seals.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way