Elephant Seals Use Government Shutdown as an Opportunity to Invade California Beach

iStock.com/blackred
iStock.com/blackred

Thirty-five days after going into effect, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history ended on Friday, January 25. The government may be open now, but many agencies are still struggling to catch up after losing several weeks of work. One site still dealing with the aftermath of the shutdown is Point Reyes National Seashore. That's because, when rangers returned to work, they found a beach normally reserved for people overrun with elephant seals, SFGate reports.

The park has an elephant seal population of roughly 1500, and many make their homes on the beach near Chimney Rock, where tall cliffs largely hide them from public view. Recent storms seem to have flooded their preferred habitat, so with no rangers to shoo them away, the seals invaded Drakes Beach and even knocked down a fence to claim the parking lot. One got as far as a picnic table outside a nearby cafe.

This is the season when pregnant elephant seals give birth, and there are currently 50 to 60 mature seals on the beach with 35 pups. The road leading to the beach is temporarily closed, but the park is considering opening it up to guided tours of the seal colony if the animals remain there.

While the Point Reyes elephant seals made the most of their new range during the government shutdown, in other national parks, local wildlife suffered. Missing staff members led to overflows of litter and unchecked vandalism at sites like Yosemite and Joshua Tree.

[h/t SFGate]

A New Ruth Bader Ginsburg Bobblehead Is Available for Pre-Order

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum

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The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a devout champion for feminism and civil rights, and her influence stretched from the halls of the Supreme Court to the forefront of popular culture, where she affectionately became known as the Notorious RBG. Though there are plenty of public tributes planned for Ginsburg in the wake of her passing, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has a new RBG bobblehead ($25) available for pre-order so you can honor her in your own home.

There are two versions of the bobblehead available, one of Ginsburg smiling and another with a more serious expression. Not only do the bobbleheads feature her in her Supreme Court black robe, but eagle-eyed fans will see she is wearing one for her iconic coded collars and her classic earrings.

RBG is far from the only American icon bobblehead that the Hall of Fame store has produced in such minute detail. They also have bobbleheads of Abraham Lincoln ($30), Theodore Roosevelt ($30), Alexander Hamilton ($30), and dozens of others.

For more information on the RBG bobblehead, head here. Shipments will hopefully be sent out by December 2020 while supplies last.

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Pretty in Pink: Drone Captures Birds-Eye View of Massive Flamingo Flock in Kazakhstan

MORAN, Unsplash
MORAN, Unsplash

Flamingos sport some of the most eye-catching plumage in the animal kingdom. Their diet of beta-carotene-rich plankton and crustaceans produces a distinctive pink hue that's hard to miss. One flamingo is striking on its own, but the birds are even more impressive as a crowd, as demonstrated by the footage below.

As Fox 13 Tampa Bay reports, Azamat Sarsenbayev used a drone to capture this video of flamingos congregating on Lake Karakol near Aktau, Kazakhstan. A flamingo flock (also called a flamboyance) can contain up to several hundred birds. Flamingos do a lot together, including mating displays. From above, everyday life for a flamingo makes for a breathtaking, candy-colored spectacle.

This footage was taken during the species' migration south. By the end of their journey, the birds will likely be settled in the Khazar nature reserve or even farther south in Iran. After checking out the video, read up on these fascinating facts about flamingos.

[h/t Fox 13]