Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adult Male Elephant Seals Molting and Jousting

Now is the time of year when the adult male elephant seals show up at the beaches at Piedras Blancas on the central coast of California to molt and eagerly participate in many of the jousts/fights which occur whenever the males congregate during their shore-times.

These fights, which are mainly for domination, begin when they're pups of just a few weeks old and continue throughout their lives.

Day by day, more and more of the huge adult males are making their way up onto the sandy beaches, sometimes having to fight their way ashore to obtain a prime spot.

The males go through a ritualistic series of specific motions before seriously physically attacking another male. At this time of year however, the fights are neither prolonged nor severe as the males need to conserve energy for the month's long stay ashore to complete their annual catastrophic molt.

Sometimes they fight for another spot on the beach, or to move up the ladder of hierarchy, or just to prove who's more macho. No matter the reason, these jousts/fights are not anywhere near as bloody as the ones that take place for territorial rights in the winter.

To see more photos, click here.

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