Few places left on this earth belong only to the animals. These areas echo a time when mastery of the land was still being settled, and people were just another link in the web of life. The coast of the most populous state in the nation still harbors a throwback to those wilder times. Año Nuevo Island is located only hour’s drive south of San Francisco, but teems with seals, sea lions, and seabirds.
The half mile of waves that separate the island from shore offers seabirds, seals and sea lions crucial protection from land predators and humans alike. It is one of few places where large numbers of these animals gather on dry land. The island is owned and operated by California State Parks, but is also part of the UC Natural Reserve System. Scientists come to the reserve to study the remarkable diving, fishing, and foraging habits of elephant seals and other island animals.