Saturday, December 25, 2010

High Tides, Alpha Males, Few Adult Females

Similar to last year, this winter's incoming tides have once again, been extremely high, completely covering many of the beaches coveted by the elephant seals for the birthing season. Unlike this time last year, though, our storms have been of the tropical rain-drenching kind from the south, mixing with some southward bound chilly northern fronts.

Maybe the change in weather pattern is the reason why there are currently fewer pregnant adult female elephant seals on shore this early in the birthing season than in years gone by. As a result, there have so far only been a handful of births.

In contrast, there seem to be many more large adult male elephant seals in the extreme heavy-weight class, who, so far, appear to be much more mellow toward each other than in previous years at this time. For the most part, they've hung up the do-not-disturb signs and have been spending much of their shore-time sleeping instead of engaging in their traditional bloody, dragged-out fights over territory.

For those who like the excitement of elephant seal fights, some sparring sub-adult males can still be spotted tussling away here and there.

The few remaining tan-to-gold colored youngsters are spending their time sleeping, half-heartedly participating in their mock fights, or moving as fast as their small bodies will allow out of the path of the amorous large males.

For more photos, click here.

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