Friday, March 12, 2010

Pinniped Colonies and Human Mimicry

Sea Lions in San Francisco- October 2009

California is home to various seals and sea lions and we enjoyed viewing them when we visited last fall. There were many sea lions in San Francisco at Pier 39 but they suddenly left the area at the end of November for reasons unknown. Apparently a few are now returning. (source). They were smelly, noisy and amusing to watch and I am glad we got to see them.

Harbour Seals near Pebble Beach, California

We saw many Harbour Seals on the 17-mile Drive at Pebble Beach near Monterey, California. They sunned themselves on rocks near the shore while balanced on ledges and steep slopes. Brown Pelicans and Cormorants were their close neighbours.

Elephant Seals near Point Piedras Blancas, California

South of Big Sur along California Highway 1, we stopped at the beach near Point Piedras Blancas where many hundreds of Elephant Seals were lined up on the sand. They were mostly inert but every so often one would flick some sand on its back. In the picture above, a seal is sanding its back with a very subtle flick of its flipper. These seals are the largest pinnipeds and are much larger than Harbour Seals. Males can weigh up to two tons and reach a length of ten feet.


It was too cold in late October for the average person to sun themselves on the beach but humans can exhibit behaviour similar to these seals and sea lions. I was looking at pictures on the BBC website last week which showed 5000 naked humans supine on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Artist Spencer Tunick has done similar photo shoots in other parts of the world. His work is not erotic in nature, but reminds me of pinnipeds on rocks and beaches. Some poses are reminiscent of pictures taken in Nazi concentration camps. It does not take much to erase human individuality and make a group of homo sapiens look just like another herd of mammals.

12 comments:

  1. Even from a distance, that is a very striking tan-line from the dude standing up...

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  2. How fascinating... the photos, the seals, and the concept of art. ;) Did you get to see any sea otters while you were visiting the California coast?

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  3. We saw seals like that along the coast of Chile, I wonder if it is common all along the pacific coast--I've certainly never seen anything like it on the east coast. I loved watching them--it was so laborious for them to move until they got to the water.

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  4. What a great adventure! It's something we only see on TV, so having the opportunity to experience it is fantastic. They are interesting creatures. The pic of the naked humans does look like a Nazi camp, kind've eerie.

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  5. Ginger- I saw one Sea Otter at the marina in Monterey. I got one picture for a record but from the back of its head.

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  6. You just brought back an almost buried memory of attending a sportsman show in Montreal when I was young. I remember the loud barking of the sea lions -- or at least I remember my mother remarking on it.

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  7. When such a large group of animals leave an area for an unknown reason I'd be worried. Earthquake? Tsunami?

    Love your blog and photos!

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  8. Oh, that last pic gave me a start! LOL!

    What a lot of interesting photos. I havent' seen so many seals before (except on T.V.).

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  9. May the seals and sea lions came to New Zealand. We used to go and see them in the south Island.

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  10. You're right, that last photo is dehumnaizing and reminiscent of Nazi horrors.

    The sea lions are so funny...looking like big blobs of lard, and yet in the water they are sleek swimming machines. Fisherman are very annoyed by them, of course, because they eat too many fish, the ones the fishermen would like to catch!

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  11. We do often look just like just another herd of mammals, don't we?

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  12. That's a lot of seals. We get a few seals in CT but never more than a few at a time.I have never seen the work of that artist but have seen photos of concentration camps so I can understand what you are saying.

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