The Friends of the Elephant Seal (FES) is now recruiting volunteers to become seasonal guides for the 2023 Winter Program at William R. Hearst Memorial Beach in San Simeon.  The male elephant seals that arrive on Hearst Memorial Beach each winter are in a challenging situation. These seals have often lost fights with more dominant male seals at the nearby rookery beaches.  They select this beach to haul out for refuge and recovery.  At the peak of the season there can be over 20 male seals on the beach, each weighing 3000 to 5000 pounds.  The seals often aggressively defend their territory as new seals arrive.

     Hearst Memorial Beach is also a popular public beach that welcomes hundreds of visitors and their pets on busy holiday weekends.  Visitors are often unaware of the seals’ need to rest undisturbed or the potential for aggressive elephant seal behavior.  Winter Guides provide education for beach visitors to prevent disturbances to the seals and to help ensure public safety.

     Guides are asked to commit to volunteering for two four-hour shifts per month from late December through mid-March. The Friends of the Elephant Seal will provide training, guidance, and materials throughout the program.  Guides must be friendly, outgoing, able to stand for three to four hours, and walk on the beach in a variety of weather conditions.  Volunteer Guides must be 18 years of age or older.

     This winter program is a great opportunity to learn more about elephant seal behavior in a unique environment.  Seasonal residents, weekend travelers, couples, students, and full-time employees are encouraged to apply for this short-term volunteer experience.  Be part of the effort to help the general public safely enjoy wildlife and learn about the amazing elephant seals.  Apply online by Monday, October 17, at:  elephantseal.org/become-a-docent/.  For more information, please call 805-924-1628.