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♥♥ Sunrise at Scenic Beach with Seal Pups (3 hours)

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Published on Mar 21, 2013

Why 3 hours? Tranquil nature soundscapes are excellent for relaxing, meditation, insomnia, studying, tinnitus sufferers, or just play the background scenery on your big screen TV when you are not watching shows. The genre is called "slow television" or "slow TV".

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Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. I filmed this on March 9, 2013 from 6:30 am to 9:30 am.

The Northern Elephant Seal, Mirounga angustirostris, is an extraordinary marine mammal. It spends eight to ten months a year in the open ocean, diving 1000 to 5000 feet deep for periods of fifteen minutes to two hours, and migrating thousands of miles, twice a year, to its land based rookery for birthing, breeding, molting and rest. The Piedras Blancas rookery, on Highway 1 seven miles north of San Simeon on the California Central Coast, is home to about 17,000 animals. The area is open for viewing every day of the year and there is no admission fee or reservation required.

Beginning in late November and continuing into December the juveniles here for the fall haul-out depart for about five months at sea and the large sub-adult and adult males arrive. These large animals contest for primacy on an area of the beach, with battles that can be dramatic and bloody although almost never with serious damage. A local hierarchy develops with a dominant, alpha, male and two to four beta males. The alpha is usually located well in from the waterline while the betas typically are arrayed nearer the ocean.

In mid- to late-December the first pregnant females arrive. Experienced females will choose a location near the alpha both for protection from harassment and, ultimately, to increase the likelihood of being bred by the strongest male. The first pup us usually born about a week before Christmas. Females continue to arrive, the great majority arriving in January. They typically give birth a few days after arrival, most of those births occurring at night.

The new pups weigh between 60 -- 80 pounds (25 -- 35 kilograms). They are ready to go immediately (see two birthing videos on our Slide Show page). The mother and pup bond very shortly after the birth, developing a familiarity with both sound and smell which will help them stay close during the four-week nursing period. The birth is often attended by many gulls that come for the afterbirth or placenta -- a visit not to the mother's liking.

The mother is very protective of the pup, aggressively guarding the pup and the area around the two of them from intruders of any size. Nursing begins anywhere from a few hours to a day after birth. It is important to realize that the mother (as are all seals except nursing pups) is fasting during her stay in the rookery -- no food and no water for the duration. That makes the pups growth over the four weeks of nursing -- quadrupling its weight -- even more remarkable. The mother loses 30% -- 40% of the weight she had when she arrived.

During the final week of nursing, the mother goes into estrous and is bred, most likely by the alpha male but quite possibly by one of the betas. Shortly thereafter she weans her pup and heads for the ocean, often running a gauntlet of beta males. Family life is over. The pup, now called a weaner, is on its own and will seek the company of other weaners away from the areas of the beach used by the remaining mothers who would not welcome its presence.

The pups remain in the rookery for two to two and one-half months after weaning, spending time in the shallow tide pools off-shore to build muscle and skill before they embark on their first ocean voyage, returning during the fall haul-out in October and November. This video is also useful for meditation, relaxing, and helping go to sleep for people with insomnia or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

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