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See Baby Elephant Seals at Año Nuevo

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A whole lot of elephant seals hang out on the San Mateo coast -- nearly 10,000 of them every year, in fact. The seals come ashore to Año Nuevo State Park in order to breed, give birth, and undergo the process of "molting," where they shed their outer layer of skin and fur.

Here's some more information about the process:

The process of catastrophic molting causes increased blood flow to the surface of the skin to help quickly supply nutrients to the new fur. During these 25-odd days ashore, the elephant seals seem to be somewhat vulnerable to warmer air temperatures and will often move down to the water's edge or even enter the water to cool off.

The elephant seals are present all year at Año Nuevo, but the molting season takes place between April and August. Adult males molt in July and August, while the female and juvenile seals -- yes, that means baby seals, people! -- molt between the months of May and June. If you're in the market for some baby seal viewing -- now's the time to plan a trip.

In order to see the seals, you will need to complete a three- to four-mile hike, some of which involves deep sand. (Driving to the seals is not an option at this beach.) So make sure to dress accordingly. Also, hikers will need to obtain a visitor's permit between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Pets, for somewhat obvious reasons, are not allowed.

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