Elephant Seals Mating

Elephant Seals Mating

The Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) is the second largest extant seal, and second largest extant carnivoran, outsized only by the Southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina). They are called elephant seals because of the huge trunks possed by mature males, and it probably helps that they are also the largest of seals, just like elephants are the largest of land mammals.

The huge male northern elephant seal typically weighs 1,500–2,300 kg (3,300–5,100 lb) and measures 4–5 m (13–16 ft), although some males can weigh up to 3,700 kg (8,200 lb). Females are much smaller and can range from 400 to 900 kg (880 to 1,980 lb) in weight, or roughly a third of the male's bulk, and measure from 2.5 to 3.6 m (8.2 to 11.8 ft).

The largest males are called beachmasters, and will try and control a stretch of beach territory, keeping any other mature males out, and doing their best to drive sneaky males away. A successful beachmaster may impregnate over 50 females in one season, though sneaky males may still succeed from time to time.

These animals were almost driven to extinction, numbering under 30 individuals in the late 1800s, but have recovered to over 100,000 by 2020.

Recorded 22 January 2023, at the Piedras Blancas Rookery, in San Simeon, California. This is around the middle of the breeding season, which starts once the females have given birth, usually becoming pregnant about a month after pups are born. The females will spend most of their lives pregnant, 11/12 months of the year. Females lactate an extremely fatty milk, about 55% fat, and pups are weaned after just 6 weeks


Elephant Seals Mating

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