California elephant seals used the shutdown to conquer Drakes Beach

While federal employees were away, the seals came out to play.

It’s hard to say exactly when it happened, but at some point during the five-week government shutdown, a herd of elephant seals took advantage of all the quiet time on federal beaches, and became squatters on a stretch of Point Reyes National Seashore, a place in Marin County, California not far from San Francisco where people usually roam.

Even though the government is back in business, and park rangers have returned to work, the seals aren’t budging. It’s elephant seal child-rearing season right now, and the moms are busy with important parenting duties, after all.

On Saturday, rangers and volunteer docents started giving tours of the seal-occupied beach, keeping tourists at a safe distance from the seals. Take a look at where they’ve set up shop: