Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Adult Males Enjoying August Beach Time

As August heads towards September, many adult male elephant seals can still be seen on some of their favorite beaches along the central California coast.

Click here to see photos of some of the current adult male visitors.

The male elephant seal often gets a bad rap as being extremely mean and vicious. As far as I have observed though, the males are usually very sweet towards the pups and take great care around them. When it comes to the weaners, the older males don't hesitate to put them in their place, but without any rancor. When it comes to the adult females, the older males obviously do want to mate with them when they're in heat, but they still allow the female to make the final call. When it comes to sub-adult males and other adult males, however, confrontation often takes place. This doesn't necessarily result in a physical fight. They might posture, 'talk', or make threatening moves without actually coming into physical contact. Mostly, one male will back away and peace is restored once again.

In December, when territorial fights tend to take place, serious fights can turn into bloody confrontations....but never deadly ones. For the most part, the fights are short in duration....10 minutes or less...although, in rare instances, there are a few territorial bouts that last upwards of 30 minutes or more. ( Sub-adult males will sometimes also try their luck during this time period...but, the well-established adult males are NOT about to yield their hard-won turf rights to those they consider subordinates. )

Then in January and in the first part of February, male fights sometimes occur over females, when both adult males and sub-adults try to mate with some of the many females. Interestingly enough, once in a while, the alpha male AKA beach-master will allow others to mate with 'his' females.

So...in July and August, while most of the older males are trying to rest up, many of the sub-adults can often be seen challenging one another in the shallows and on land.

Click here to see video of some of the males enjoying their downtime.

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