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Elephant Seals

(Mirounga augustirostris)

    These true seals live almost entirely in the water except during birthing and breeding season. Because birthing and mating require coming out of the water, elephant seals choose relatively isolated coves and beaches on islands where they are partially protected from predators. Although the central California coast hosts a much larger colony at Ano Nuevo beach, Point Reyes has had a successful breeding colony just inside Drakes Bay for several years. The day I visited the overlook (2005-01-12), two biologists visited the beach for a pup count, so I was able to compare the relative sizes of humans and elephant seals.  Several images, please scroll down.

   In addition to the large bull in the foreground, several females and pups are visible above. The pups are the small, black, wrinkled objects lying next to females. I count 3 pups in the above image.

   Above: A closer look at some pups with their mothers.

    Above: Two young bulls sparring in the water. Lots of roaring and fang-showing going on, but no blood was spilled. Things get more serious later after the pups are weaned and mating begins.

    Here you can appreciate the relative size of a human biologist and a bull elephant seal. A full-grown bull may reach over 3 meters in length and 2000 kg in weight. This is apparently not a full-grown bull.

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