MARIN COUNTY (CBS SF / AP) — Tourists unable to visit a popular Marin County beach that was taken over by a colony of nursing elephant seals during the government shutdown will be able to get an up-close view of the creatures.

The Press Democrat reports Point Reyes National Seashore rangers and volunteer docents will lead small groups of visitors starting this weekend to the edge of a parking lot son they can safely see the elephant seals and their newborn pups.

About 60 adult seals that gave birth to 35 pups took over Drakes Beach during the 35-day government shutdown, leading park officials to close access to the beach.

Elephant seals on the sands of Point Reyes. (CBS)

“I’ve not seen anything like this here with these numbers,” park spokesperson John Dell’Osso told KPIX 5 earlier this week. “An occasional rogue elephant seal yes, but nothing like this.”

The large herd at Drake’s Beach is the product of several circumstances. Strong storms and high tides probably limited the amount of beach space available for the adult seals looking for a space for pup season.

Point Reyes Superintendent Cicely Muldoon says it will be an opportunity for visitors to witness the recovery of a once-threatened species from yards away.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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