Northern Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris)
Elephant Seals are found from coastal Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. Between December and March adult Northern Elephant Seals arrive in California and Mexico to give birth and mate. After pupping and mating, the adults and young migrate to their feeding grounds as far north as the Aleutian Islands. They have one of the longest migrations of any mammal, some have been recorded traveling over 13,000 miles roundtrip. They feed on squid, octopus, small sharks, rays, and large fish. They can dive for 80 minutes and reach depths of 5,000 feet. These animals are polygynous breeders with a social hierarchy. Males form harems usually when they are 9-10 years of age, battling for status. Females come ashore and within a few days give birth to a pup conceived in the previous breeding season. The pups are weaned for about a month and just before her pup leaves she breeds again and then returns to sea. They fast during mating season and can lose up to 36% of their body weight during this time. Molting occurs, they shed their short, dense pelage along with large patches of old skin. Molting is a natural condition that takes 4-5 weeks to complete and is not an attractive process, this does not mean they are injured. The best thing you can do is stay 100 yards away from the animal!