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King tides pose danger for newly born elephant seal pups

Christine Heinrichs

The highest and lowest tides of the year are peaking Wednesday morning along the Central Coast. They're known as King Tides and could cause some minor coastal flooding.

The National Weather Service in Oxnard also warns of strong rip currents at the beaches during periods of low tide.

The extreme tides also pose a danger for the newly born elephant seal pups at the rookery on the northern San Luis Obispo County coast. 

On Monday, the seawater was high enough to put at least one pup in danger at the Piedras Blancas rookery, according to Christine Heinrichs who photographed the encroaching tide and writes about the colony for The Cambrian news weekly.

Credit Christine Heinrichs
Elephant seals congregate at the base of the cliff at Piedras Blancas to escape the high tide.

"His mother gave him some protection from the direct force of the waves, but the water pulled him closer to danger every time it swirled around him," said Heinrichs. "At noon when I left, they were still at water's edge. His mother seemed concerned, but clueless as to how to save him. They seemed ready to stay where they were when they weren't actually surrounded by water."

In years past, the National Park Service has reported tides that "wreaked havoc" on colonies in Northern California.

The peak King Tide is expected on Wednesday morning between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. along the Central Coast, depending on the location.

Wednesday will also see larger than normal tidal swings.