March 28, 2015

Elephant Seals of San Simeon

Another major highlight of our California holiday was our timing to see Elephant Seals in large numbers on a beach near San Simeon. As long-time readers may well remember, we have seen elephant seals a few times in recent years, but only females. It has certainly been special to see the females, but when the males are 2.5 times as big (up to 5,100lbs) and have giant weird noses, they are certainly a sight worth seeking out. While the southern elephant seal is apparently even larger, elephant seals in general are the largest seals so they are as big and crazy as a pinniped can get!
The pupping and breeding season was in February, so we missed most of the action, but these things are pretty incredible just to see having a nap. The older a male gets, the more enormous his nose and they have an intense rivalry for females which trims down their lifespan quite a bit. Females often live for 22 years while a male will hit full maturity by 8 and typically die well before age 14.
 The whole focus of the males and females meeting up on these beaches of course is to produce pups, and as the trio below can attest, they are pretty darn cute. These little guys have a pretty extreme childhood as well; their mothers feed them 50% fat milk for 4-5 weeks and then abandon them. Figuring out life as they go, they typically stay near the beaches where they were born for another 12 weeks and then head out to sea until next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment