22 Feb 12. With the rock theme going as well as it is I guess we'll just continue. About 7 miles north of San Simeon, CA on Hwy 1, is located the Piedras Blancas rookery, home to about 17,000 Northern Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris.) Unlike the Ano Nuevo site that wanted to charge us $50 to visit, the Piedras Blancas rookery is open to the public 24/7/356 (366 this year) and at no charge. As we were driving north along Hwy 1, we noticed a sign saying elephant Seal viewing. As the parking area appeared jammed we thought there might be something worthwhile seeing so we stood on the binders and found our way into the parking lot. It was very full, but we found a spot at the very back end and proceeded to make our way to the fence directly in front of us to see what I'm sharing today. During our first tour in CA, back in the early 80s, we loved to watch the California ground squirrels (Otospermophilus beecheyi) which are much larger than our local critters and a bit more on the take when provided the opportunity. As we were looking out to see the view, mostly of the males from this initial vantage point, we were confronted by several of these guys demanding protection rations. Signs all over said don't feed the animals, but apparently they were not easily understood as they were in English only. Preparing to photograph the bulls, I was kept under continuous surveillance by several of the local GSM (ground squirrel mafia) to make certain that an appropriate amount of payment was forth coming; it was. For their efforts, I got a couple of nice portraits. There are, by the way, four members represented in the image. ISO 250; 1/250 sec @ f /13.