The Monterey Bay Aquarium hosted its 12th annual Día del Niño/Day of the Child celebration today, and it seemed fitting that families walking to the aquarium witnessed another annual event — seal moms training new pups. On sheltered beaches throughout the bay during this time of year, harbor seals give birth. This morning on my walk, along with families going to the aquarium, we watched mothers and new pups on the beach of Hopkins Marine Station and a small cove to the west, both in Pacific Grove, California.
These pups have very short “puphoods.” Mothers feed and fatten them for 4 to 6 weeks, then wean them. In that short time, pups must learn to swim, dive and fend for themselves. This morning, I watched new pups comforted by mothers (photos), a pup while it nursed (see video), and a squealing pup get a swimming lesson (see video). I could have stayed all day.
The pups look so helpless at this stage and yet they’ll be on their own soon. Knowing that, it’s sometimes hard to watch them, but they’re so adorable. I know that in June I’ll have new curious harbor seals following my kayak as I paddle these shores.
I’ll never forget the time I was SCUBA diving along the Aquarium’s intake pipes and happened upon a harbor seal sleeping in between the pipes. We scared each other right good! It’s so amazing to watch them move underwater — so natural, as opposed to us gangly landlubbers with all of our limbs and lungs and such.
Oh, yes, they’re so elegant in the water whether you see them diving or kayaking. It’s a shame that most people only see them on the rocks or beach. Thanks.