A Children’s Fiction Picture Book As Seen in “The Clowns of March” in SLO Journal, March 2015
What the experts say about Isu of Piedras Blancas:
“Charmaine Coimbra’s Isu of Piedras Blancas expands an accessible tale with carefully selected photographs to introduce children to the Northern Elephant Seal, a fascinating marine mammal that lives a dual land-sea existence with dives of more than a mile into the chilly northern Pacific Ocean interspersed with long naps on the warm sands of California beaches. The story is clear; the science is solid; the photographs are simply stunning.”
–Donovan Marley, FES Board Member, Environmental Activist
“Charmaine Coimbra’s deep personal knowledge — and love — for the elephant seals shines through in her delightful telling of an elephant seal pup’s introduction to life as a migratory seal. Children will pester their parents to ‘Read it again!'”
— Christine Heinrichs, certified California Naturalist
and ten-year elephant seal docent.
Isu of Piedras Blancas
Story and Photos by Charmaine Coimbra
An introduction for parents and teachers
From the waters near the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and the North Pacific Ocean, northern elephants seals, among the largest seals in the world, gather on the sandy beaches of Piedras Blancas near San Simeon, California.
During the winter months, adult male elephant seals, with their long, elephant-like noses, and the smaller, pregnant elephant seal females arrive at Piedras Blancas for several months of birthing pups and breeding.
As spring nears, most of the adult elephant seals have left the beach. Only the pups that were born during winter remain. This is the story of one of those pups. I call him Isu. Isu means hair seal in Aleut.
Every winter, thousands of northern elephant seals swim from the icy waters near Alaska and the North Pacific Ocean to a California beach–the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery.
On an early January morning Isu, a northern elephant seal pup, was born on this beach.
Soft fur, as black as night, covered the 70-pound pup.
Like all the other elephant seal mothers, Isu’s mother stayed near her pup.
They lived with 30 other mothers with pups in a harem where
a giant male elephant seal, with his long elephant-like nose, guarded them.
Each pup suckled its mother’s milk and gained about 10 pounds a day.
Contact Charmaine Coimbra at cmcoim@msn. com for the entire manuscript
Happy Elephant Seal Weaners–an award winning photo by Charmaine Coimbra from the 2015 Coastal Commission Amateur Photography Contest