Elephant Seals

Who can resist those lumbering, loud monstrosities on the beach.  This is the time of the year you really want to try to stop by the two Northern California locations, Ano Nuevo State Reserve (north of Monterey) or Piedras Blancas (about 5 miles north of Hearst Castle), and see the Elephant Seals (named for their large size and the long pendulous noses on the males).  The breeding season is in December, when the first males arrive.  From fourteen to sixteen feet long, 2 ½ tons, the huge bulls have violent battles to establish dominance.  In late December thru mid February, females arrive and form “harems” and then give birth 3-6 days later.  Much smaller than the males, 10-12 feet and 1,200 to 2,000 pounds, females normally give birth to one pup that she will nurse for 25-28 days.

It’s fascinating to watch these creatures.  The ‘alpha’ males fighting off the young males for dominance in the group.  Moms and babies laying in the sun.  This past year, one of the large males decided to go ‘walk about’ and crossed the Coast Highway from the Piedras Blancas area.  Being so big, they still move very fast, and the Rangers couldn’t chase him back.  So, he spent a few days seeing what was greener on the other side of the hill and then he moseyed back.
Visit www.video.nationalgeographic.com/video/sealcam/ for a live Seal Cam.

Here’s a schedule of their typical year:

ELEPHANT SEAL ANNUAL SCHEDULE:
January
Female elephant seals continue to arrive on the shoreline. Peak of births usually are the last half of the month.
February
Elephant seal births continue. The peak of mating is around Valentine’s Day. More females leave.
March
Last adult elephant seals leave.
April
Female and juvenile elephant seals return to molt.
May Female and juvenile elephant seals molt.
June
Sub-adult male elephant seal return to molt.
July
Sub-adult and adult males molt.
August
Last adult elephant seals molt.
September
Young-of-the-year and juvenile elephant seals haul out to rest.
October
Young-of-the-year and juvenile elephant seals haul out to rest.
November
Subadult elephant seal males haul out. Mature males begin arriving at the end of the month.
December
Elephant seal bulls continue to return. Females arrive. The first birth is usually mid-month.

Aquarium Morning Rounds

For those of you, like me, who love the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I have a new treat to tell you about. On Thursday and Sunday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. you can participate in ‘Morning Rounds’. This tour is limited to 12 people and is regularly sold out, so advance reservations are a must. A trained naturalist will give you a behind the scenes tour like you’ve never had. You’ll participate in a private sea otter feeding and training session, go to the Aquarium kitchen and prepare food for the animals and see how they get their morning meals. You’ll prepare fish pills for the penguins and help the aquarists prepare the touch-pool for visitors. Yes, a hands-on experience. You should even prepare to get a bit wet and maybe a bit fishy but what an experience! It is a bit expensive ($65 per person plus the additional cost of an Aquarium entrance ticket, $45 for members) but you’ll see the exhibits from a perspective that’s usually only available to staff and volunteers. You’ll learn how they care for more than 30,000 living animals and plants in 200 galleries and exhibits. Well worth the expense!

Bistro Moulin

For all you foodies out there that share my excitement when a new restaurant opens, I have some news for you.  BISTRO MOULIN, is giving restaurants in the area some serious competition.  It’s easy to understand why—French-born chef Didier Dutertre spent 25 years as the chef at Casanova’s in Carmel.  His new 20-25 seat restaurant reminds you of dining in Italy and France with the European tradition of tables close together in a small intimate room.   It is charming, not too big to allow for poor service and friendly in the way only small restaurants seem able to achieve.  And the food—simple yet perfectly executed by Dutertre.  The menu is not small!  There are six entrees, six hors d’oeuvres, several side dishes, and four desserts.  There are a few daily specials and an antipasti of the chef’s selection that reminds one what can be achieved in the hands of a capable chef!

Dutertre and his girlfriend/partner, Colleen Manni, expanded the restaurant into a tiny shop next door selling lovely imported ceramics, olive oil, vinegar, wine, and seductive foodie items all thanks to a partnership with the retailer Mediterraneo Imports.

I certainly can’t wait to return!  This is the best new restaurant to come along in quite some time.
867 Wave Street (831)333-1200 Open Monday thru Saturday 11:30-2:00 for Lunch, 5:00-8:30 for Dinner
www.bistromoulin.com