Elephant Seals - San Simeon, California

Personally, I have not heard of Elephant Seals. The usual one that I often hear and see is the normal seals that we see in the zoo and open water. I must say that this is something unique and unusual for me to see how Elephant Seals behave in the wild under a natural environment.

Elephant Seal

As the name goes, it look just like any other Seal except that it has some features of Elephants. The sound that produced by them is different than the normal seal too. Some are loud and fierce, others just could not be bothered by it as they were busy with sunbathing. 

Elephant Seals enjoying the Sun.

Enjoying the Sun

Here are some fun facts on Elephant Seals from +Wikipedia  : "Elephant seals take their name from the large proboscis of the adult male (bull) which resembles an elephant's trunk.[3] The bull's proboscis is used in producing extraordinarily loud roaring noises, especially during the mating season. More importantly, however, the nose acts as a sort of rebreather, filled with cavities designed to reabsorb moisture from the animals' exhalations.[4] This is important during the mating season when the seals do not leave the beach to feed, and must conserve body moisture as they have no incoming source of water. The species' non-biological names reflect their colossal size, with Southern elephant seal bulls typically reaching a length of 16 ft (4.9 m) and a weight of 6,600 lb (3,000 kg), and are much larger than the cows with some exceptionally large males reaching up to 20 ft (6.1 m) in length and tipping the scales at up to 8,800 lb (4,000 kg); cows typically measure about 10 ft (3.0 m) and 2,000 lb (910 kg). Northern elephant seal bulls reach a length of 14 to 16 ft (4.3 to 4.9 m) and the heaviest weigh about 5400 lbs (2455 kg)"

Elephant Seal enjoying the day

Being a commercial scuba diver junkie myself, I find these facts interesting as they can dive deep and hold their breathe for a  long time. "Elephant seals spend upwards of 80% of their lives in the ocean. They can hold their breath for more than 100 minutes[7][8] – longer than any other noncetaceanmammal. Elephant seals dive to 1,550 m beneath the ocean's surface[7] (the deepest recorded dive of an elephant seal is 2,388 m (7,835 ft) by a southern elephant seal).[9] The average depth of their dives is about 300 to 600 m (980 to 1,970 ft), typically for around 20 minutes for females and 60 minutes for males, as they search for their favorite foods, which are skatesrayssquidoctopuseseels, small sharks and large fish. Their stomachs also often contain gastroliths. While excellent swimmers, they are also capable of rapid movement on land." < Source : from Wikipedia>  Off course, we humans are far more different than Elephant Seals. Nevertheless, I am impressed by their capability. They live up to 22 years for females while males lived up to 14 years from the longest lifespan recorded. 

Elephant Seals come to shore twice a year to have some fun time. Meaning to say they party and socialize like how we humans do. It is said that some 17,000 of them now call this place their home. They normally stay on shore up to two months before returning to sea for the rest of the year. They utilize this period for breeding, birthing, rest and molting while on shore.

Elephant Seal enjoying the day

Elephant Seal enjoying the day

To be able to see Elephant Seal in action , you may stop by Elephant Seal Rookery ( +Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery  )as shown in the map below as you drive along State Highway 1 in California, USA. Visitors are only allowed at the viewing deck to watch Elephant Seal. Getting to the shore to watch Elephant Seal is prohibited. 

Look out point to see Elephant Seal. <image from google map>

While there, do spend some time to have a walk along the coast. It is wheelchair friendly too. 

To walk the trail and watch Elephant Seal are FREE of charge. No reservation required. 

If you have time to spare and would like to contribute more than just being a tourist / visitor. Do browse more on how you can contribute your energy to this "non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about elephant seals and other marine life and to teaching stewardship for the ocean off the central coast of California" here :http://www.elephantseal.org/. They are on Facebook too !

More pictures on my trip here : http://on.fb.me/1tpmyGC

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