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Elephant Seal image
Elephant Seal

Elephant Seal

(Mammal)

Elephant Seal Baby
Elephant Seal Baby

Elephant Seal Habits

With the exception of breeding season, elephant seals come ashore only to shed their skin, a process known as molting. In late summer, hundreds of seal gather on beaches and wallow in muddy pools of water. They lie close to gather while they gradually shed patches of hair and skin. Eventually, the old skin replaced by a new coat of sleek fur, and the seal return to water.
Originally land animals, elephant seals have adapted to life in the sea by developing a thick layer of insulating fat, called blubber, that keeps them warm. The blubber also serves as a reserve store of food. Elephant seals move gracefully in the water.
They propel themselves with their fins and use their forelimbs to change direction. On land, they use their forelimbs to move across the beach.

Elephant Seal Communication

Elephant seals communicate though various means. Males will threaten each other with the snort, a sound caused by expelling air though their probosces, and the clap-trap, a loud, clapping sound comparable to the sound of a diesel engine. Pups will vocalize when stressed or when prodding their mothers to allow them to suckle. Females make an unpulsed attraction call when responding to their young, and a harsh, pulsed call when threatened by other females, males or alien pups. Elephant seals produce low-frequency sounds, both substrate-borne and air-borne. These sounds help maintain social hierarchy in crowded or noisy environments and reduce energy consumption when fasting.

Elephant Seal Breeding

Male elephant seal arrived at breeding beaches a few weeks before the females to establish territories. The competition among the males is fierce: they engage in bloody fight to claim territories where females are likely to congregate.
Shortly after the females arrive at the breeding colony, they give birth to single pups conceived in the previous mating season. The females are not ready to mate again until theirs pups are weaned four weeks later. Many larger males attempt to mate with the females too soon after they gives birth; many female are injured, and 10 percent of the pups are killed. Pups triple their birth weight in four weeks. Their wooly fur is then shed to reveal a sleek, gray coat.

Elephant Seal Food & Feeding

Elephant seals feed primarily on fish and squid. Until recently, very little was known about their hunting behavior; recent studies have shown that they make extraordinarily deep dives water they catch bottom-dwelling prey.
Although elephant seals have long caning teeth, only thee inch-long tips protrude through the gums. This and their dull molars make it difficult for them to feed on anything but soft-bodied prey,

Elephant Seal Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Length: Southern males, 16 ft,; females, 10 ft. Northern males, 14 ft.; females, 10 ft
              Weight: Southern males 5300 lb.; females, 1,500lb.. Northern males, 5,00 lb.; females, 2,000 lb
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: 3-5 years
             Mating: Southern species, September to October. Northern species, December to January
             Gestation: 11 months
             Number of young: 1 pup
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Social during breeding
            Diet: Fish and squid
            Lifespan: Up to 14 years

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Male elephant seals are so large that it has been difficult to find out how much they weigh. Their skin alone can weigh up to 250 pounds, the blubber 1,450 pounds, the heart 93 pounds, and the head 115 pounds.
  • Southern elephant seals are known to travel great distances from their breeding beaches. The longest recorded journey was over 3,000 miles.
  • Elephant seal sleep so soundly on breeding beaches that it is possible for a person to sit on one without waking it.
  • The big difference in size between the male and female elephant seal is thought to be the greatest relative size difference between the sexes of any mammalian species.
  • It can hold its breath for more than 100 minutes longer than any other non-cetacean mammal.

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