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The mission of the California Department of Parks and Recreation is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state's extrordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation.
Fifty-five miles south of San Francisco and the Golden Gate, Año Nuevo State Reserve is a rare and truly unique site that features significant habitat areas for the harbor seal, the California sea lion, the Stellar sea lion and breeding ground for the elephant seal. Perhaps the most compelling attraction for human visitors to Año Nuevo State Reserve is the large colony of northern elephant seals that assembles here each winter, so named because of their large size and long pendulous noses on the males. These large animals spend most of their lives at sea, coming ashore only to molt, give birth, and mate. Approximately 100,000 people visit the reserve annually to observe the seals in their natural habitat, and the interpretive program has attracted increasing interest every winter for the past 19 years.