Sealcam at Ano Nuevo State Park

Ao Nuevo
State Park has installed a new High
Definition (HD) Elephant Seal camera (or Sealcam) as part of its newly

remodeled Marine Education Center. They’re looking for your seal of approval.

 

            “This new Sealcam will provide our visitors with
a unique and extremely clear, close-up window into the world of these
magnificent sea creatures,” said State Parks Director Ruth Coleman. 
“I am excited that HD technology and solar energy enables our visitors to
get the kind of view you would only get otherwise if you were actually sitting
next to these animals.”

             
For the first time in the history of the Reserve, live High Definition video of
the Elephant Seals located on Ao Nuevo Island
will be displayed real-time on a large plasma screen in the Visitor Center.  
The new High Definition Sealcam is located a mile and a half off shore on Ao
Nuevo Island in the middle of a very isolated colony of the Northern Elephant
Seals.   It is necessary to have a camera, because the island is a marine
reserve, a restricted-access location, that is set aside for protection of the
seals and a camera is the only way for the public to view this unique natural
setting. 

            Powered
by green energy (a 720-watt photovoltaic solar system), the HD sealcam, with
its thirty magnification zoom lens,  will provide visitors with a spectacular
new way to observe the Elephant Seals as well as  the other extraordinary
marine life that frequents the island.  This new video portal onto the island
produces a clarity of image that is only possible using a High Definition video
format.

            Ao Nuevo
State Park
is one of the largest
mainland breeding colonies in the world for the northern elephant seal, and the
parks interpretive program attracts tremendous interest every winter during the
Elephant Seal breeding season.  Elephant Seals have gained their name because
of their large size and the long pendulous noses on the males.  The male
elephant seals at the Ano Nuevo measure fourteen to sixteen feet in length and
weigh up to 5,000 pounds each.

            While
the northern elephant seals may be seen year-round at the reserve, the largest
number of seals can be seen during their breeding season, which extends from
December through March.  The huge bull elephant seals engage in violent battles
on the beach to establish dominance and to take control of their
“harems”.   The females give birth to their young on the dunes.
Most of the adult seals are gone by early March, leaving behind the weaned pups
that remain through April.

      Ao Nuevo State Park is located on the coast of San Mateo County, south of San
Francisco
and Half
Moon Bay

From the north, drive to the town of Half
Moon Bay
and head south on Highway 1, about 25 miles
to the Ao Nuevo State Park entrance.  Park in the visitor lot and walk the
short path to the visitor’s center.   From the Santa Cruz Area, go north
on Highway 1, about 22 miles
.
 

            Funded
by donations,
the Elephant Sealcam will also provide university researchers
with an exciting new opportunity to remotely monitor the nests of Pelagic
Cormorants that breed on Ao
Nuevo Island

during the summer. In addition, live video from the Elephant Sealcam will also
be used 

as
part of the “Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students”
(PORTS) program for classroom education programs on the Elephant Seals at Ao
Nuevo.  (See http://www.ports.parks.ca.gov
for more information about PORTS.)

            The
dramatic video produced by the new Ao Nuevo Elephant Sealcam will also be
available on the State Park web in a lower resolution format.  To view the
video remotely, go to the State Parks Web Site at:  http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=523 

             During the breeding season through March 31, daily
access to the Reserve is available only via guided walks. Advance reservations
are recommended for walks.  Reservations can be made by calling 800-444-4445.

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