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A new view of the elephant seals in Cambria

Elephant seals are the main attraction at the viewing area near the Piedras Blancas lighthouse.
Elephant seals are the main attraction at the viewing area near the Piedras Blancas lighthouse. jmellom@thetribunenews.com

Friends of the Elephant Seal, California State Parks, the California Coastal Conservancy and the California Conservation Corps have worked together toward opening a new stretch of boardwalk at the north end of the elephant seal viewing area on Highway 1 about 12 miles north of Cambria.

With railings, the wheelchair-accessible boardwalk replaces a rough trail along the edge of an eroding bluff.

Work began at the end of May and finished Oct. 29. The organizations celebrated the opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday.

The project was funded by the California Coastal Trail grant program of the California Coastal Conservancy and money from the National Park Service Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Those funds were combined with a statewide agreement with the California Conservation Corps through the California State Parks Statewide Trails Section.

Large elephant seal bulls began arriving on the beach before Thanksgiving. The behemoths, sometimes topping two tons, swim south from foraging waters off the Alaskan coast to spend December, January and February on the beach near the Piedras Blancas lighthouse.

Once on the North Coast, hundred of bulls engage in an annual ritual of battling over territory and breeding.

Friends of the Elephant Seal also celebrated a landmark recently: Volunteers for the nonprofit group have spoken to a total of more than a million visitors through the years, according to a visitor log kept up on a daily basis.

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