The beach looked like it was littered with corpses.
Turned out, they were the San Simeon elephant seals, and very much alive, albeit a bit lazy. Occasionally one would flip sand on itself (maybe to regulate its body temperature), and one particularly adorable seal shoveled his nose forward in the sand, carving a path.
It’s always funny to me when humans stand around marveling at animals, but in this case, we couldn’t help it. We were disappointed that we didn’t see any of the seals with the proboscis that gave them their name “elephant” seal. Those are males older than four, but we were looking at a younger and/or female bunch.