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.”