PACIFIC HARBOR SEAL - Phoca vitulina richardii

Pacific harbor seals have spotted coats in a variety of shades from white or silver-gray to black or dark brown. They reach five to six feet (1.7-1.9 m) in length and weigh up to 300 pounds (140 kg). Males are slightly larger than females. They are true or crawling seals, having no external ear flaps. True seals have small flippers and must move on land by flopping along on their bellies. In San Francisco Bay, many harbor seals are fully or partially reddish in color. This may be caused by an accumulation of trace elements such as iron or selenium in the ocean or a change in the hair follicle. In California, harbor seal pups are born between February and April and weigh about 20 to 24 pounds at birth. If born prematurely, harbor seals retain a whitish lanugo coat (which is usually lost before birth). A pup can swim at birth and will sometimes ride on its mother's back when tired.


Just up HWY1 out of the town of Jenner are several pull outs on the road where you can see the mouth of the Russian River and Goat Rock Beach.It is a great spot to see the resident harbor seals along the shore. There are a variety of shore birds, osprey's and pelicans diving for fish, and on occasion a pair of bald eagles. The mouth of the river does close and require an excavator to open it up. When the river mouth is closed parts of Penny island start to disappear under the river water. The river takes its current name from the Russian Ivan Aleksandrovich Kuskov of the Russian-American Company, who explored the river in the early 19th century and established the Fort Ross colony 10 mi (16 km) northwest of its mouth. They called it the Slavyanka River (Славянка), meaning "Slav River".[1]

Fort Ross State Historic Park

Sandy Beach Cove lies below the fort. The principal port of the settlement remained 19 miles to the south at Port Rumiantsev (Bodega Bay). There was frequent travel and transport of goods between Sandy Beach Cove and Port Rumiantsev in Russian launches and Native Alaskan baidarkas (kayaks) and baidaras (large, open skin boats used to carry cargo and up to 15 passengers).

In the cove area below the settlement were a number of buildings including a shed for the baidarkas, a forge and blacksmith shop, tannery, cooperage (for making barrels) and a public bath (“banya”).

There was a boat shop and shipways for building ships. Farm implements and boats were sold and traded to the Spanish, and four Russian-American Company ships—three brigs and a schooner—were the first built on the California coast. The shipyard was abandoned by 1825, but smaller boats continued to be built.