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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wildlife Photography - Elephant Seals In Central California

Sorry Honey, not tonight

I am in the central coast of California visiting a year round Northern Elephant Seal rookery. The Elephant Seal is the largest animal in the Pinniped family. The males can reach almost 15 feet and weigh about 6,000 lbs. The females are considerably smaller, coming in at about 9 feet and 2,000 lbs.

On land, this enormous marine mammal may be a lumbering mass of blubber, but once in water the Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris) transforms into a graceful swimmer and remarkable diver. The male Elephant Seal has a prominent, trunk-like proboscis, and a region of thickened, scarred skin on the neck, chest and shoulders called a ‘chest shield’, the result of numerous fights with other males.

Happiness is having a howling good time with Mom

I am here to witness the females giving birth to young pups on the beach and big males, called Beach Masters, defending their harem from other competing males. The mothers are busy giving birth and nursing, while trying to fend off amorous males attempting to mate with them.

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