A large male elephant seal bit a Cambria man at William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach the first week of January. Danny Harris was on the beach at what’s popularly know as San Simeon Cove when he saw a group of people from a tour bus harassing the seal on the beach.
These photos were taken a few days after the incident. In the distance, a horseback rider pulls a surfer through the surf, http://elephantseals.blogspot.com/. The seal is more than twice the size of the horse. Increasing contacts between seals and humans on beaches open to the public raise the possibility that such conflicts will be more frequent. Docents at the Piedras Blancas viewing site overlooking the main rookery educate the public to reduce close contacts. The inevitable result is serious injury or even death for the humans. Adult male elephant seals weigh 4,000 pounds and more. Females are much smaller at 1,000-1,500 pounds. They are top predators with very large teeth and unpredictable dispositions.
These people were touching it and poking it with sticks to try to get it to move. Harris approached them to ask them to leave the seal alone, but as he neared the scene he got between the seal and the ocean — the seal’s only means of escape. The seal reared up and charged him.
Harris raised both hands to protect his face and head, and the seal took his arms into its mouth. Harris was treated in Cambria and is bandaged from shoulder to hand on one arm.