Thursday, January 24, 2013
Click here to see pictures of current inhabitants.
The big males are starting to get antsy as females that gave birth early on in the birthing season come into heat. The females are hungry and want to eat but the males want to mate and won't let the females leave until this has been accomplished or, at least attempted. Many males seem inclined to mate with the more compliant younger females before tackling the more opinionated, feisty older 'ladies'. Mating takes place on land or the shallows where the males can get a firm grip on the oftentimes reluctant females.
( In water, the females are far more agile and can easily outswim a male.)
Click here to see photos of males attempting to mate.
All females, but especially the older ones, have quite a few weapons in their arsenal when it comes to fending off amorous males. They can wiggle and squirm making it hard for the male to get a good grip. They can throw sand in his eyes and face. They will bark threateningly or protest loudly. They will even bite or try to bite the neck of the much bigger and stronger male. If a female keeps this up long enough, the male will back down and wait for a more opportune moment.
Click here to see video of males trying to get females to mate.
Friday, January 11, 2013
If a pup during its first two weeks of life gets pulled into the ocean too many times, it will probably die from hypothermia as it won't have enough fat to protect it from the chilly waters of the Pacific. As marine mammals, pups can instinctively swim but aren't yet equipped with the necessary body warming fat that they will have after feeding for another week or so.
Click here to see video of shivering pups.
People often ask me how to tell the difference between male and female pups. The easiest way is when you can see the underside, but, of course, the pups don't usually co-operate. So, this means looking at the overall size of the pup, the shape of its head, the shape of its fore-flippers, and its behavior.
After a pup is born, the mom often tries to hide the bloody afterbirth by covering it up with sand. But, the sharp eyes of the clean-up crews of gulls will soon hone in on this delicacy and down they'll swoop.
There are two kinds of egrets that seem to enjoy the coastal bluffs, the great white egret and the snowy egret. Both of whom like to spend hours fishing.
In the meantime, click here for portraits of some cuddly pups.