Seals take over California beach closed in US shutdown

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Elephant seals on Drakes BeachImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Elephant seals took advantage of the shutdown to populate Drakes Beach

A large herd of elephant seals has taken over a beach in California that was forced to close during the government shutdown.

The seals took advantage of the 35-day shutdown to make themselves at home on Drakes Beach, and in its car park.

So far they have been spotted lying on their stomachs, taking naps and occasionally snuggling their pups.

The beach will remain closed until the seals decide to move on - although it's not clear when that will be.

Drakes Beach was originally shut because it is part of an area run by the National Park Service, which had to stop operating during the shutdown.

It is part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, which is near San Francisco.

John Dell'Osso, a spokesman for Point Reyes, told Reuters that the seals managed to get in by knocking down a fence and getting into the beach car park.

He added that it was easier for them to "colonise" the beach because "there were no park rangers and no members of the public".

The shutdown ended on Friday when President Donald Trump gave in to public pressure and agreed to temporary funding that did not include $5.7bn (£4.3bn) for a wall on the US-Mexico border.

Needless to say, people aren't too mad at the seals for making themselves at home.

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Since settling in, the females have given birth to more than 35 pups - meaning that there are now about 100 seals in total living on the beach.

On its website, the National Park Service warns that the beach and surrounding roads "are temporarily closed to all vehicle, foot, and bicycle traffic due to elephant seal activity".