I have had the uncanny privilege, nay divine opportunity, to travel the deep rugged terrain of coastal California to spy on the elusive giant of the marina world, the Elephant Seal. I bestowed upon this grand fellow the name "Bulldozer" due to his colossal nature and his apparent inability to take no for an answer when pursuing choices for a basking spot. Bulldozer! A more fitting moniker could hardly be imagined.
On the first day, perched upon a rocky outpost enveloped by the misty sea air, I spotted my Bully blissfully preening on a lonely sand dune. Such an ungainly beauty! His parka-like fur shimmered under the glare of Sol, radiating an aura shimmering with serenity. Oh, the quiet dignity!
Suddenly an interloper, a sea otter of cunning slyness whom I fondly christened "Rob," appeared, darting hither and thither with a flippant disregard for the other's personal space. "Yoo-hoo! Bully, old chap, made room for one more?" I imagined Rob querying with a cheeky wink – yes, wink, for surely if any otter could wink, it would be our Rob! Bulldozer, the old sport, merely flopped a flipper in his general direction and resumed his sunbathing. Well, what else to expect from our gentle-natured leviathan?
The next couple of days saw variations of this seaside saga. That is until a pleasing orange sunset, when Bulldozer seemed to move with a purpose, carving a deliberate path towards the frothy seafoam. His slick body disappeared under the briny waves, leaving me all alone with Rob, confounded. "Ah-ha! The game is afoot!" Rob seemed to exclaim with a flick of his whiskered snout, and dived after Bully, his furry tail waving a merry goodbye.
Day turned into night, and the moon came to play upon the empty beach. The stage was set for their grand return. Bulldozer reappeared first, hauling his hefty form onto the same sand dune, now a silvery patch under the moon. Rob, embracing his role as the punctual sidekick, popped up next to him, all slick and glistening in Moony's silvery glow.
"What now, Bully? Don't suppose it's another sand buffet meal this time," I imagined Rob chirping. Now, I know an Elephant Seal's diet primarily consists of squid and fish, but at this moment, it seemed they partook in a feast of sand-dipped clams. A large wave washed ashore and with it came a colony of Sand Bubbler Crabs – little fellows so tiny and cute that only creamy saucer-shaped eyes give away their presence. I named their leader "Gladstone"; he seemed the Gravesend sort.
And oh, the drama that ensued! While Gladstone and his legions scuttled about on their lunar-like landscape, ever industrious in their crabby endeavors, Rob would occasionally nudge Bulldozer on his side, as if to say, "Say, Bully, those crabs would make a fabulous starter". The sheer horrified expressions of our imaginary crustacean conversations could have given the grandest of the old Hollywood silent era run for their money.
But, no dear reader, Bulldozer's heart was kindest of all, and he chose the peaceful way, once again opting for the unseen sea delicacies. "How about that mastery over gluttony, Rob?" he’d perhaps rumble in his rich, baritone seal voice. Rob, however, remained adamant, swishing his paws in a futile attempt to catch the nimble, scuttling balls of shell and legs; One can't help but admire the spirit. None was too small to be considered a meal, nor too big to be considered a playmate. The unlikely camaraderie provided an endearing spectacle, right till the fading twilight of my last day there. And so, my sojourn with Bulldozer and his ensemble of aquatic acolytes ended, leaving me enriched and euphoric, ready for another bizarre communion with Mother Nature soon.