Elephant Seals Facts!

Elephant Seals Facts!

Alpha Male. Northern Elephant Seal (M. angustirostris) at Piedras Blancas at sunrise 22Jan2011. Image credit: mikebaird, (CC BY 2.0)

The elephant seal is a carnivorous mammal. There are two species of these seals — a northern and a southern. They are called elephant seals because of their huge size and the large nose of the male seals, which is somewhat like an elephant’s trunk. The males can be around 16 feet (4.9 meters) long and are called bulls, while the females are only about 12 feet (3.7 meters) long and are called cows. The cows do not have a large nose. In males this is an inflatable proboscis (snout) and enables them to produce really loud roars — this is most useful during mating season.

The blubber of the elephant seal helps to protect it from the cold more than its fur does. Blubber is an insulating fat layer under the skin of marine mammals, like seals and whales. The top hair and skin molts at times and grows back. Molting seals lose skin and hair in large patches, leaving them vulnerable to the cold. Therefore the seals come ashore during that time for protection and to rest. During molting, they stay in one place for many months and rarely go back to the sea, and they normally don’t even eat.


Northern Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris) at sunrise early light at Piedras Blancas, San Simeon, CA . 26 Jan 2013. Image credit: mikebaird, (CC BY 2.0)

80% of their lives are spent in the sea — they only come on to land for birthing, breeding and molting. Elephant seals have the ability to hold their breath for more than 100 minutes under water, and to dive as deep as 5085 feet (1550 meters) below the ocean surface! These seals feed on fish, squid and small sharks. Adult seals have few natural predators, but their young are often hunted by leopard seals, and killer whales may hunt both the young and the old.

Elephant Seals are featured in the following books:
25 Whales, Dolphins and other Sea Mammals
101 Facts… Polar Animals

The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about Elephant Seals. Details of the videos featured are underneath.

The Playlist:

  1. Male elephant seals defend territory – David Attenborough
  2. Elephant Seals – BBC
  3. Size is Everything: Bull Elephant Seals – Battle of the Animal Sexes – BBC
  4. Elephant Seal vs. Elephant Seal by NationalGeographic
  5. Dominant Male Elephant Seal | Wild Kingdom by Animal Planet
  6. Back to the fight: Male elephants seals at Año Nuevo by TOPPpredators
  7. Elephant Seals Fight for Dominance in California: Video by RMBolton


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