Año Nuevo Island – Pescadero, California - Atlas Obscura

Año Nuevo Island

Elephant seals and sea lions have turned the abandoned buildings on this island into their endangered love shack. 


The relatively young island of Año Nuevo was once connected to California’s northern coast by a narrow land bridge, but as the water levels rose creating a channel between the mainland and the island, it was abandoned. Well by humans anyway, since thousands of seals and sea lions take up residence on the island and its forsaken buildings each year to get down to repopulating their species.

The haunting old manse that can still be seen from the California shore was once the abode of the keeper of the lighthouse that also once stood on the island. The lighthouse itself was torn down in the early 2000s not because of the property damage it would have caused had it been allowed to fall of its own accord, but to protect the thousands of marine animals who now litter the shores of the island.

Apparently the island’s craggy shores, and according to some, the shelter of its abandoned buildings, are quite romantic to northern elephant seals and endangered Stellar sea lions. The island and its opposing shore have even become one of the major breeding grounds for the elephant seals who use the area to breed so vigorously that they they were able to pull their species back from the brink of extinction.

As a protected wildlife preserve, Año Nuevo Island is off limits to all but approved researchers. Any urban explorers who are still wooed by the site of the abandoned buildings just off shore, The Man be damned, might want to think twice since the waters surrounding the island are often infested with great white sharks looking for an easy seal meal. Lets just give the seals a little privacy, okay?

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