Thursday, August 30, 2012
Click here for photos of some of these big males as they went about their daily business before leaving in search of food.
click here to see adult male elephant seals in their underwater environment.
So far only a few of the next group of 'vacationers' have ventured ashore. These first early-bird arrivals of the Fall Haul-Out are some of this year's weaners and youngsters, born 2-3 years ago.
Click here to see photos of these early arrivals.
Although some of these young elephants seals of both sexes are relaxing and sleeping, some of the more energetic puppy-like young males are already getting into dominance bouts of playful wrestling.
Click here for video of young males play-wrestling.
A few of the more adventuresome young males, on the other hand, like to test themselves by engaging slightly older male members of the group in challenges. Instead of being really aggressive, these older young males, however, tend to usually act amused and take it easy on these upstart youngsters.
Click here to see video of youngsters challenging slightly older elephant seals in a narrow inlet.
In the coming weeks, as the Fall Haul-Out gets into full swing, more and more youngsters will come ashore to relax and wrestle, and along with them, will also come some pregnant adult females and sub-adult males. ( The Fall Haul-Out usually lasts from September into November. )
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Vibrissae, the plural form of vibrissa, comes from the Latin verb vibrare meaning to shake/vibrate.
Elephant seals have 3 sets of vibrissae/whiskers:
1. mystacial ( on each side of the nose )
2. rhinal ( on the upper bridge of the nose )
3. supraorbital ( above the eyes )
These bristly yet sensitive whiskers, which are very dark/black on pups and youngsters, are thicker and longer than the other hairs on the elephant seal's body. They also seem to be the longest on the youngsters between the ages of 2 and 4 years old. Instead of being smooth like the body hairs, they are beaded with wavy bumps of repeating sequences of crests and troughs along their lengths and are supplied with blood and nerves via the muscles attaching them to the elephant seal's head. It appears as though the elephant seals can manipulate each whisker individually or as a group.
When startled or protesting, all of the elephant seal's vibrissae fairly bristle, with all of them literally standing on end.
The vibrissae on the older elephant seals tend to be lighter in color and shorter as well as often displaying many colors.
When swimming along the surface, all 3 kinds of vibrissae are often extended, probably because the elephant seal is on high alert in preparation for whatever it might encounter.
Click here to see vibrissae being used in different situations...the last picture probably being the most amazing.