April 25, 2011

Signed, Elephant Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours

Good morning and greetings, central coast fans. Since we last met cybernetically, tornadoes have continued to blast down across the south and midwest, with hail the size of softballs raining down on unsuspecting infielders and outfielders. This April has set the all-time record for tornadoes and putouts recorded. On Saturday, the airport in St. Louis was struck by the worst tornado in 40 years that left passengers clutching their bags of mini-pretzels and Albert Pujos’ jerseys.

My Kentucky-based field scout Nancy Mager told me last week of storms with howling winds and golf-ball sized hail that came along with thunder and lightning in the middle of the night in Bowling Green. I guess that comes with the territory when you live in tornado or Kirstie Alley.

Moving along to a place with a more gentle weather pattern, during the month of April, I have been focusing on the coastline beween Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the unincorporated community of Davenport and last week it was pesky Pescadero. For today’s action, we’re trapsing halfway between these two coastal oasis as we venture to the Ano Nueva State Reserve, which lies 25 miles north of Santa Cruz, which would be 50 miles south of San Francisco and 3,000 miles west of Yankee Stadium.

Because of my deep cover work, I last visited this sacred spot for elephant seals back in 2007. The Ohlone Indians, no relation to the Cleveland Indians, were the first people known to build condos in the Año Nuevo area. But then around the birth of John McCain in 1791, Mission Santa Cruz was founded and the Indian population, much like like my stock account back in 2009, plummeted due to the various diseases and some bad paella that Spanish had brought with them.

The Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino sailed by the point on January 3, 1603, which I believe was a Wednesday. His diarist, chaplain and flamingo dance instructor on the expedition, Father Antonio de la Ascensión, named it Punta de Año Nuevo (New Year’s Point) for the day on which they sighted it. They had recently stopped in Monterey for some clam chowder, calamari strips and pan-fried sand dabs and passed Año Nuevo while heading north for a rave concert.

Today, Ano Nuevo remains much like the way Vizcaino saw it and the way I see myself-wild, lonely and underdeveloped. What happens on this jutting out stretch of land, like my first year at Syracuse University, is magical and something, like the Supreme Court giving Bush the nod over Al Gore, that I won’t soon forget. Hundreds of elephant seals, seal lions and Navy Seals come ashore to rest, mate and give birth on the beach, sand dunes and private cabanas.

Año Nuevo State Park is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant seal. The surrounding area is also the number one location on the planet for great white shark attacks, as they love to snack on elephant seals and any other marine mammal that goes for a leisurely swim in this area. I don’t know about you, but being attacked by a great white shark has been something I’ve always wanted to avoid, like taking the SAT’s again.

So if you like to watch giant male elephant seals fighting, goring and tearing at one another to see who gets to be King Inseminator, (and who wouldn’t want to be?), than this the place where you get a front row seat. The top bull, like a Shawn Kemp, typically sires 50 pups each year without breaking a sweat. In one four-year period, a lone dominant male inseminated at least 225 females, after which he signed a few autographs and took a well-deserved nap.

Now here are a few, quick fun facts about elephant seals. Much like teams during the first round of the NCAA tournament, the seals journey thousands of miles as males head north to frolic in the waters near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and females swim west out to sea. During the migration, most of the seals never return to land, which would be a problem for someone like myself, who doesn’t like being in water or conversations that go over my head.

Elephant seals are capable of swimming in waters a mile deep for 90 minutes at a time, then taking a quick breath and going right back down again. Unbelievable. The seals are thought to nap while they dive, which is what I used to do during most of my upper division math classes.

Much like Mother Theresa and Queen Latifa, the females are big-time givers, as for four weeks, they forgo eating, massages and on-line shopping, as they lose as much as 40 percent of their weight in the production of milk and cheese. That’s no Jenny Craig experience. But after home schooling and nursing her pup for a month on land, Mommy abandons the youngster, mates, and heads back to sea for a much need spa treatment. That is, if she makes it by the Great Whites.

These hallowed grounds, much like the NBA Store in New York, is an exotic spot to visit. Since it was April, the seals you see in today’s photos are females and pups just relaxing, flipping around sand and doing crossword puzzles. But the fact that all this breeding, fighting and molting goes on with these gigantic creatures just 25 minutes up the coast is mind-blowing. So do yourself a favor and take the mile and half walk on the wild side. You’ll be glad you did and a grateful nation thanks you.

On to the humor of the late night. “Donald Trump is apparently on top among Republican voters. People are responding to his straight-forward honesty, tough talk, and utter lunacy.”–Jimmy Kimmel “NBC executives say that if Donald Trump does run for president, they will not renew ‘The Apprentice.’ So some good may come out of this.” –Conan O’Brien “Donald Trump is attacking President Obama’s background. And I said, ‘Wait a minute, Trump also is from a mixed background. He’s half jack and half ass.’” –David Letterman

“Donald Trump said that if President Obama releases his birth certificate, Trump will release his tax return. Obama said he won’t run for a second term if Trump releases that thing on his head. President Obama is celebrating Passover with a Passover Seder. After hearing this, Sarah Palin said, ‘Ah, so he is a Muslim. Obama will participate in a town hall meeting hosted on Facebook. So just like everyone else in America, Obama will be on Facebook when he should be working.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama celebrated Passover with a Seder at the White House. This morning, Donald Trump demanded to see Obama’s bar mitzvah certificate.”–Jimmy Kimmel “The governor of Hawaii said he first met President Obama just days after he was born. He knew it was Obama because he kept pointing to his diaper and calling for “change. To celebrate Kim Jong Il’s birthday. North Korea held the biggest magic show ever. Things got out of control when the magician pulled a rabbit out of his hat and it was immediately eaten by 28 million people.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama’s critics are lashing out over him shutting down the poker sites. Sarah Palin called it an overreaction, Tim Pawlenty said it was irrational, and Donald Trump said, ‘Be sure to watch ‘Celebrity Apprentice.” Gambling and Washington don’t seem to go together at all. One’s full of whores and seedy, soulless bastards and the other’s the gambling industry. Forty percent of Americans say they would rather cut their own hair than do their taxes. And then there are people that would rather do neither. I’m talking to you, Willie Nelson.” –Craig Ferguson

“Lenscrafters is upset with Tea Partier Michele Bachmann because she called Planned Parenthood ‘the Lenscrafters of abortion.’ Lenscrafters released a statement today calling her ‘the Costco of crazy.’ The FAA suspended an air traffic controller for watching a movie on the job. The controller said he was only watching a movie because he couldn’t sleep.”–Conan O’Brien “Pakistan says they are slowing down their hunt for bin Laden. Slowing it down? What is it, 10 years now? Could you go any slower?” –Jay Leno “Speaker of the House John Boehner says he will not host a Cinco de Mayo celebration this year. Boehner says he has nothing against Hispanic Americans, and in fact his speaker of the housekeeper is Hispanic.”–Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our last word for April, as time continues to fly by faster than our involvement with non-lethal aid and advisors to the Libyan rebels. I hope you NBA viewers having been enjoying the playoffs, as the first ten days of action has been as good as it gets, unless of course, you’re a New York Knicks fan. The NBA, where amazing comebacks happen. Aloha, mahalo and later, Brandon Roy fans.

3 Comments »

  1. Amazing mammal, the elephant seal. The mile deep pressure on their body is mind boggling! A fast google search resulted in January 3, 1603 was a Friday … “beach party and spring break”.

    Comment by Babs — April 25, 2011 @ 7:11 am

  2. The things I learn every Monday morning. I don’t remember school being this entertaining or informative. You really know how to seal the deal…

    Comment by Chris Paul — April 25, 2011 @ 7:29 am

  3. For a minute, I thought all the seals on the beach were dead.
    Glad to know that’s not the case!
    Amazing creatures.
    Thanks for the show.

    Comment by Wendi — April 25, 2011 @ 8:25 am

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