Friday, May 31, 2013

Elephant Seals on the Pocket Beaches

Females Resting Onshore               Males Challenging in a Bay 
At this time of year, when both the females and males of all ages excluding the adult males come ashore to experience their catastrophic molt, they often choose separate pocket beaches. Maybe they do so because the females don't want to be mounted all the time by young males....and maybe because the males are more intent on asserting their strength, both mental and physical, over each other.

Click here to see photos of both groups.

Although both sexes tend to sleep quite a bit, therein ends the likeness. The once-again pregnant females crowd onto the small beaches and spend much of their time squabbling about one thing or another as they wait not so patiently for the time when they'll leave the central California shores to feed themselves and their growing fetus. How they decide when to leave again is not known. Maybe their hunger pangs get too strong, or maybe they somehow know that their favorite meals are out and about. One thing that is obvious, is that the females seem to prefer spending their time ashore, often on beds of cooling kelp rather than in the chilly Pacific Ocean.

Click here to see video of some of the females.

The males, on the other hand, tend to occupy their coastal-time by constantly challenging other males. These challenges take place both in the shallows as well as on land. From the day they're born, male elephant seals almost constantly challenge one another...presumably for supremacy.

Click here to see video of some males relaxing in a bay.

These groups will soon be on their way in search of food, and won't return to these shores until early fall. The next group to come ashore starting in late June will be the adult males.

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