Cute Piles of Blubber – Elephant Seals in Mating Season

We saw elephant seals in person for the first time in California. Our first run-in was with a guide who let us in on some pretty cool facts about these giant animals. For example:

– An elephant seal can dive to 2,388 m beneath the ocean’s surface.

– One male can impregnate up to 50 females in one season.

After arrival on shore males fast for three months, and females fast for five weeks during mating and nursing of her single pup.

Then we saw them again, further down the road, sprawled out all over the beach. And then again, even further down the road. It is mating season, and one beach isn’t big enough for all of them.

The number one thing we noticed when we ran across these giant animals is that they seemed to fart a lot and make all kinds of weird noises, check out the sound clip here. At first glance, it really just looks like huge, blubbery, animals scattered on the beach.  But when you sit and actually immerse yourself into their lifestyle you can see so much happening on the beach.

There are overly-excited and courageous males who want to get some fun in with all the ladies and then there are the head honchos, who chase them away, occasionally getting into a furious battle in the ocean with water splashing everywhere, teeth digging into flesh, and all kinds of battle cries and displays of power.

You can also see all of the little babies around their mamas, suckling to get some milk and throwing sand on themselves so the sun isn’t so harsh.

Soon you realize that they aren’t actually farting, but are blowing air out of their noses to clear their air passages so that they can take a nice breath.

All in all, we spent a few good hours watching these not-so-beautiful, beautiful, animals wadding around. Here are some of our favorite shots.

And then we went and saw the sunset at a nearby beach, with less elephant seals, this way we could actually get to ocean level!

Elephant Seals Post-2

Elephant Seals Post-3

Elephant Seals Post-1

Have you ever seen elephant seals?
What was your first impression?

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