Friday, January 23, 2009

all this talk about elephant seals..

I appreciate all of you who have hung in here with me while I rave on about the elephant seals. It was such a great time being there with them--watching, listening,'s hard NOT to share it!

This area where the seals 'hang out' is about 5 hours north of where I live--up in a little coastal town called San Simeon. There is a beach area with a little bit of a cliff type terrain, and that beach is where they migrate each year from Alaska to do their birthing, mating, and molting. There are always some seals there throughout the year long, but the age groups and purposes change depending upon the time of year.

In October and November the adolescent males (3-5yrs) are on the beach. They mock fight and practice their moves until December when the Big Boys arrive and haul themselves up onto the beach. The Big Boys (at 4-5,000 lbs each!) move in and stake their claim to an area of the beach (by fighting off other males) and await the arrival of the females. When the females arrive --many of them pregnant-- the Big Boys each assemble their own harem of about 30-40 females and then keep all other males at a safe distance away. Because they do not eat the entire time they are here (3 1/2-4 mos), they generally lose up to 40% of their body weight by the time they hit the sea again.

Usually the females have their babies from about the end of December through the beginning of February. They then spend their time feeding and caring for their pups until they are weaned at about 6 weeks old. Once the pups are weaned (and the females have mated with their bull), the moms leave the beach, and the pups stay to teach themselves how to swim.There is so much going on down on the beach during this time of year! I watched for three hours straight each day I was there, and the time just flew by! The moms feed and talk to the pups and yell at each other; the bulls bellow at and chase each other; the pups wriggle and crawl and yelp and squawk;the bulls mate with the females; and all of them (even the newborn pups!) are continually flipping sand onto their backs to cool themselves in the warm sun.

And then, there's a whole lot of puppy love going on...

How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. ~ Psalm 104:24

1 comment:

  1. So do they remember who was in their harem last year? Are they watching over the females pregnant with their progeny or some other fellas?


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