Redcliffe Pier

Saturday, June 9, 2012

ELEPHANTS ON THE BEACH

Sorry I tricked you. When we were in San Luis Obispo my cousins took us to  Piedras Blancas where there is an elephant seal rookery.
These tan and brown, females and juveniles come here for their catastrophic moult. They lose an entire layer of skin and hair as they rest on the beach for 4 to 6 weeks. (What a life!) The males return from feeding in Alaska in November.

Only the males have the long nose like an elephant.

The seals that are near the end of their moult have silvery new coats. They move by using their flippers to push up and forward and flopping on their belly. It looks awkward and hard work.

They flip sand over themselves to keep cool.

They are plump and bulked up for their moulting fast. 

The sub adult males come in June ( these guys must be early) and they are more fun to watch as they like to spar and play, challenging each other with their changing voices, banging their chests together and nipping each other's neck in mock fights.
It was very windy and cold on the beach and difficult to get good photos. 
You can see them for yourself on web cam on this site

21 comments:

  1. Your photos are so wonderful that I will forgive you for tricking us.

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  2. I don't mind the trick at all, I love to see seals on the beach. And you are right about the young males, they do put on a great show. I love the shot of the one in her silvery coat, it is beautiful.

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  3. Diane!
    Trickery of the highest order. I did have my doubts/wonders of African or Asian elephants on this beach.
    Is there a stench with these "elephant seals" shredding their skins?
    Do these seals really just lie there for all this time and live off the food intake of before? Surely they must go back into the sea to eat?
    An interesting blog, as usual. Well done.
    Cheers
    Colin

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  4. No there wasn't any smell but it was very winy that day. Yes they lie there and do nothing, they look dead. They fast for 4 to 6 weeks while they moult.

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  5. Sorry it should read "very windy"

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  6. I always thought that seals have dog-like faces and (yes, this is a clear indicator of my procrastinating, pointless ways) if I push Milly's ears back she looks like a seal!

    I remember seeing some similar scenes in Tasmania - lots of burping and a few barks and PLENTY of pong.....

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  7. I didn't know they moult, looks a relaxed way to get a new skin.

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  8. Diane, what a cool place to visit. It must have been a cool experience to see all the seals. They look kind of weird when molting. They do have cute faces, wonderful photos and a great post. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  9. How exciting to wacth those seals on the beach.

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  10. If there was so smell that day, you were lucky. On up the coast in Oregon there are beaches like this and my goodness they stinketh-ed. Awful. But I stayed and kept looking at them because they are so fascinating. Just one big blob on the sand. :)

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  11. the photos are excellent and this is my most favorite post you have done. i want to see this, be right there.... funny, magnificent, odd and so lovely. LOVE IT

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  12. What an amazing episode in their lives. Your photos really show the extreme moulting!

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  13. I'm loving your travels, wish I was there. CA is a favorite vacation place for me..if my ship comes in I may get there by August!

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  14. Such a fascinating post Diane. I learned something new today. I had no Idea that Elephant seals shed their skins. Thanks for the great pictures. i hope to look back on your travels one of these days. We're still seeding barley and it's been very busy here on the farm. Have a great weekend!

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  15. Very clever Diane! :)
    Wonderful info on these little 'elephants.'
    I had no idea - fascinating info.
    Your right - what a life - lying on the beach shedding skin and not worrying about burn!

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  16. A beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable, fascinating post. Great captures! Thanks so much for sharing, Diane.

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  17. Wow this was awesome loved this post very fascinating

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  18. Oh My Goodness... This is fabulous. I have never seen anything like this... Wow!!!!

    When my son worked in Alaska, he sent me pictures of the seals. I had no idea they went to CA during the spring/summer... Amazing...

    Thanks for a great post.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  19. What an incredibly interesting post!! I had no idea that Elephant seals did this... fascinating!

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  20. Wow, I had no idea about all of this. I've been educated - thanks. In the days of seal hunting about a hundred years ago or more, they must have been an easy target...it's amazing there are any left!

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  21. I've been here! It was amazing to see so many seals lying on the beach and frolicking in the water. I'm so glad they are in protected waters. You photos are fantastic! I stopped blogging about my CA tripup the coast in January when my Mom passed --I have to get back to finishing the trip on my blog.

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