The Zen of Seal Pupping Season

The word Zen, when translated as “absorption” or “meditative state,” fits my state of mind while week-ending in beautiful La Jolla, San Diego.

The last two years I’ve celebrated my March birthday at La Jolla Cove, a small beach  targeted by seals and sea lions for spring pupping season.

Seals and sea lions differ in physical characteristics. The Sea lions are brown, bark loudly, walk on land with their large flippers and have ear flaps. The harbor seals have small flippers and scoot on their bellies when on land. They do not have physical ear flaps.

By the end of March the babies are getting bigger but still stay close to their mothers. Notices warn the public to stay clear of the beaches where the seals are making their temporary home. Humans are NOT supposed to approach these animals for fear the marine animals will be disturbed and even abandon their pups.

I think Jay gets a little tired of hearing me start sentences with, “I just don’t understand…” I’d say people are clueless, but I think whereas the general masses are respectful, there will always be a remnant who disregard the well-being of others for their own purposes. An Instagram moment is more important??

Back to the deep breathing and relaxation.

Click on the photos below to enlarge and see the birds and animals doing their best yoga poses.

Another feature of spring in La Jolla Cove is the nesting of thousands of Brandt’s cormorants perched above the waters and seemingly not at all bothered by those of us standing above observing the babies.

The city has managed to do a little “spring cleaning” this year. The guano was reduced by about 75% of what we’d noted the year before. The eggs are still hatching and mothers are feeding their young. We watched them for hours. It’s amazing how relaxing it is just to watch a mama feed her babies!

The nests are mounds of dried sticks and grass, and each pair may use the same area for nesting every year. The fathers help bring sticks to the mounds and are responsible for assisting in making the nests. They aren’t as observable this time of year as the mothers are sitting. The birds don’t make much noise, but they have a little croaking sound that makes me think of a mother trying to soothe her baby.

But it’s the pups I really love! They aren’t much to look at, yet I can’t seem to take my eyes off of them. Maybe I just want to sunbathe on the beach, too!

Watching these guys really is a Zen experience. I love staring at them, watching as one or two may decide to waddle on over to the water’s edge, take a dip and maybe give their pup a swimming lesson.

If you’re looking for action, this video doesn’t give you much! These guys really do just stay in one spot, soaking up the rays. But the sound of the surf is soothing and you’ll see one little mom and pup taking a splash.

If I can’t find time this week to get to the beach, I’ll have to observe Darwin…He knows how to share his Zen moments every day!


Hope you have a “breathing lighter” week, my friends. If the stress builds, find an animal to help you “de-stressify.”

43 thoughts on “The Zen of Seal Pupping Season

  1. Kate Crimmins May 20, 2018 / 4:59 pm

    Those seal pups are amazing. I too could watch them all day.

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 9:06 pm

      Aren’t they just the funniest animals! They don’t do much of anything, yet they fascinate. Thank you, Kate.

      • Kate Crimmins May 23, 2018 / 5:59 am

        They are. Maybe it’s their big eyes. Reminds me of puppy dog eyes. I’m a sucker for those!

  2. nrhatch May 20, 2018 / 5:06 pm

    What a great way to celebrate your birthday . . . with newly birthed pups! Thanks for a fun share that’s full of ZEN.

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 9:04 pm

      Thank you, Nancy. I’m hoping La Jolla and the pups might remain my yearly birthday pilgrimage. 🙂

  3. Ray V. May 20, 2018 / 5:26 pm

    Beautiful photos. Not wanting to rain on the party, but don’t the sharks know it’s time to cruise the beach? Did you see any? I love the sound and smells of the beach…. thanks for one of the two.

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 9:02 pm

      Ha! I don’t like to think about the sharks, Ray. I’m in complete denial about the food chain. LOL!

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 9:00 pm

      Thank you so much. I am so glad you stopped by and left such a nice comment.

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 8:26 pm

      It’s a wonderful little retreat for us when we can manage it, Andrew. It’s only two hours from home yet we don’t often visit! You know how that goes. 🙂

  4. restlessjo May 21, 2018 / 12:18 am

    Aren’t they gorgeous? 🙂 🙂 And I can picture La Jolla. I spent one very grey but warm day there, many June’s ago. It was still lovely.

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 8:15 pm

      No kidding, Jo? I love that you have been to La Jolla! Of all the places you might have visited this somehow surprises me. You experienced what we call “June Gloom.” The marine layer this time of year settles and we don’t see much sunshine. We have been socked in under that “gloom” for a week now, and it begins to get to me. LOL! I’m glad I could share a little “re-visit” to La Jolla with you. 🙂

      • restlessjo May 22, 2018 / 10:17 pm

        We did a West Coast trip when James was about 9, Debbie, mainly for Legoland and Disneyworld (the year before we’d done Florida Disney, Cypressa Gardens and St. Pete’s). In our non theme park days we managed La Jolla, and San Diego, where I think we spent an overnight. It’s all a distant blur now, but I will never forget June Gloom, and I know it’s early this year through other west coast friends. It will be no consolation but in the UK we often have an east/west division. When one has sunshine the other doesn’t, so my Cornish friend is happy and I’m under cloud again. I think they call it life’s rich pattern. 🙂 🙂 But yes, it’s good to know that we share a little bit of common ground.

  5. Jim Stewart May 21, 2018 / 7:11 am

    Lovely place to hang out. I go wander every time we’re in the area. Good stuff!

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 7:56 pm

      I do envy you your special spot, Jim. 🙂

      • Jim Stewart May 22, 2018 / 7:58 pm

        We’ll have to get you back down there.

        • Debra May 22, 2018 / 8:11 pm

          Thank you, Jim. I’d like that!

  6. Karen Snyder May 21, 2018 / 8:53 am

    Mesmerizing, Debra.

    My memory from LaJolla is of hang-gliders stepping off the cliffs at Torrey Pines, and soaring off over the Pacific. Fascinating and terrifying all at once!

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 7:50 pm

      I don’t know that I’ve ever been present with the hang-gliders, Karen, but I can picture how beautiful that would be off those cliffs! We live just two hours from these beautiful bluffs yet we rarely make it down to San Diego. I often wonder how it is we don’t prioritize better. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your memories of this special spot.

  7. Gail Huskins May 21, 2018 / 3:40 pm

    I love how they each claim their spot and stay there! La Jolla’s little celebrities, with the “paparazzi” all around!

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 7:45 pm

      Great assessment, Gail! They are the funniest looking creatures yet I can’t get enough of them! 🙂

  8. lifeonthecutoff May 21, 2018 / 9:20 pm

    What a satisfying way to celebrate a birthday, Debra, and equally satisfying to view from afar. Thank you for sharing these photos and the video is, as others have said, very zen! Happy Birthday, my friend, and wishes for a wonderful year ahead.

    I love La Jolla. We were there when the girls were young, old enough to appreciate the seals, but, not at an awkward age yet. They remember La Jolla and the seals well.

    A very pleasant weekend was held here, first with the Royal Nuptials (especially the Gospel Choir and the cellist), followed the next day by our 45th wedding anniversary. 🙂

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      Ah! You are going to share (almost) a wedding anniversary with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Congratulations to you and Tom on 45 years. It’s a marvel to think of that many years together, isn’t it? And a gift! I loved the wedding, too, and think the royal couple are going to add warmth, fun and purpose into their family standing!

      And I’m so happy to hear that you and your family are familiar with La Jolla! I know that San Diego holds appeal to you as you think of your father’s time in the navy. I hope someday Kezzie and Ezra might be able to visit. I’ll bet that some day they will! 🙂

  9. dee ready May 22, 2018 / 12:36 am

    Dear Debra, thank you for taking the video, just watching for that short time showed me that I could watch for a much longer, longer time. It is Zen, just as holding one of the cats is. The purr–that deep rumble of Maggie or the light breath of Ellie or the the flute-like song of Matthew is my Zen! Peace.

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 7:31 pm

      I’m so glad I was able to share a brief visit to the Pacific coast, Dee. And I completely understand what you’re saying about the Zen of interplay with your cats. I think animals have such a remarkable way of soothing us. They are a gift! 🙂

  10. Cristina May 22, 2018 / 3:03 am

    Loved the yoga poses 🙂 Beautiful images!

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 7:27 pm

      Thank you, Cristina. I appreciate that you stopped by and left such a nice comment. I can see the title of your last post and I will be sure to make a visit your way. 🙂

  11. 2e0mca May 22, 2018 / 8:13 am

    Lovely shots and a belated Happy Birthday Debra 🙂 Your point about people putting their Instagram / selfie above more important considerations is well made.

    • Debra May 22, 2018 / 7:26 pm

      Thank you, Martin. I have looked forward to sharing photos from La Jolla since my return in March. It really is one of my “happy places,” and I always look forward to visiting again just as soon as we leave. 🙂

  12. Debra May 22, 2018 / 8:06 pm

    The beach is about an hour from our home, although La Jolla is more like two. So we can at least see the ocean frequently. But time still needs to be allocated and prioritized snd I find that driving the highways to get there can sometimes be enough of a challenge to discourage a visit unless I have plenty of time. It is so true, though, isn’t it, that spending time in nature, with beautiful trees, open land or the bonus of birds and animals, can lower blood pressure and melt away stress. 🙂

  13. Jacqueline King May 23, 2018 / 1:14 pm

    Amazing photographs and descriptions Debra ~ I’ve learned things I never knew. I’ve never seen so many seals in one place and the video is very atmospheric. Beautiful little zen interlude, thank you for sharing your wonderful nature weekend! 🙂

  14. Born To Organize May 26, 2018 / 11:23 pm

    I’m with you on nature-watching: it’s wonderful satisfying, infinitely relaxing and a pleasure to behold. It’s almost thirty years now since I visited the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo here in NorCal. It was a docent lead tour, and we were not aloud within twenty feet of them. It’s a shame this beach couldn’t erect a temporary barrier to keep these animals safe. I love your kind heart and sensitive to all the beauty that surrounds you, Debra. Your photos are stunning

  15. clinock May 28, 2018 / 1:56 am

    Surreal and wonderful, thanks Debra…

  16. Stacey May 30, 2018 / 8:14 pm

    Debra! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and caught up on other blogs – including yours! This was a fun one to start back at reading through blogs…oh how I miss La Jolla on a day like this (it’s been over 90 degrees here lately with the humidity at something ridiculous like 80-90%…spring lasted for about a week this year and I was oh so sad about that!). Anyway, I’m happy to see you doing well and wanted to let you know I was thinking of you! Miss you xoxo!

  17. Amy May 31, 2018 / 8:31 am

    That is the best way to de-stress. So much fun to see these creatures. Beautiful photos.
    Thank you for sharing with us, Debra. 🙂

  18. Karen May 31, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    What a nice way to celebrate your birthday, you must have had an enjoyable time. Many more healthy and happy ones.

  19. thefolia June 2, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    Our old stomping grounds…how I miss the coves of San Diego! I don’t understand either Debra, I would see so many people get so close for selfies, I guess they missed the signs about not getting to close to the edge too. My husband was always in disbelief about swimmers in wet suits in that cove. His office overlooked it and he could always spot sharks!

    • Debra June 3, 2018 / 5:50 pm

      Oh Cristina! Of course this is familiar to you! It is such a wonderful location and like I mentioned in many of my responses, we aren’t “all that far” from La Jolla, but you know well how long it can take to drive from Pasadena to San Diego. LOL! We have to be ready to stay over. I don’t understand how people do a lot of things, and I’ve been practicing being “softer” in my outrage. You don’t hear “soft outrage” too often, do you! 🙂

  20. reocochran June 12, 2018 / 4:33 pm

    This was definitely a post where I felt both joy and a sense of peacefulness “wash over me,” Debra.
    I love being by water, since the waves can lull one into a Zen like state. Thank you for the sweet pup and his Mum. They all look so laid back! 💦💞💦

  21. reocochran June 12, 2018 / 4:36 pm

    Oops, happy belated birthday, dear Debra! 💕 🍰 🍷

  22. Otto von Münchow July 20, 2018 / 11:13 am

    Such a beautiful coastline you have access to—and beautifully photographed. A very belated Happy Birthday to you, Debra.

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