Saturday, February 20, 2010

Over-Sized Elephant Seal Weaners

Despite quite a few pups starving to death ( see blog post 2-6-10 ), there also seems to be an inordinate amount of extra large weaners occupying a certain beach on the central coast of California.

The average weaned pup AKA weaner is between 4 and 5 feet long and weighs anywhere from 150lbs to just over 300lbs. ( Bear in mind that when one of these weaners was born a little over a month ago it was 3-4 feet long and weighed 60-80lbs.)

At this one beach, I have been astonished to observe that about 50% of the weaners are extremely huge. Their lengths are 5-6 feet, and they must weigh in at around 500+ lbs.

( Remember, a full-grown adult female is on average 8-9 feet long and weighs anywhere from 800lbs to 1,500lbs....and this is after several years. )

Why have so many weaners grown to this gargantuan size ?

Maybe this phenomenon came about because the moms and their pups became isolated up in the dunes and had plenty of undisturbed nursing time !? Due to the constant high waves and high tides during the merciless winter storms, sheer sand bluff walls were formed keeping the large male elephant seals at bay for several weeks down on the flats of the beach until they were able to wear down the sand walls and climb up into the lofty nursery.

Click here for more photos.

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