It's springtime at the Point Reyes National Seashore, about an hour outside of San Francisco, and the cold wind whips off the sea and through the tall grass along the cliffs. Cows wander and graze along the fingers of land that reach out into the estuary’s tiny bays, an area altogether encompassing just over three square miles.
Beyond the estuary, at the outer edges of the seashore, seals sun themselves on the beaches, packed in tightly and squirming along the shoreline.
From March through June, the estuary is quiet. The seashore boasts more than 28,000 acres of agricultural land, most of it for beef and dairy production -- but it’s pupping season for the seals, and the National Park Service has instated its annual ban on the motorboats that usually zip around the estuary, planting and harvesting millions of oysters for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company.