As they dive, outside pressure compresses the air in their bodies. The southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) is one of the two species of elephant seals. It gets its name from its massive size and the large proboscis of the adult male, which is used to produce very loud roars, especially during the breeding season. Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) inhabit large portions of the southern hemisphere. As part of the phocid, or true seal, family, elephant seals have ear holes and short front flippers that allow them to move on land by flopping on their bellies, also known as “galumphing.” Northern elephant seals are found in the North Pacific, from Baja California, Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands. Southern elephant seal range Synonyms; Phoca leonina Linnaeus, 1758 Macrorhinus leoninus (Linn.) Electrona spp. They are the deepest diving air-breathing non-cetaceans and have been recorded at a maximum of 2,388 m (7,835 ft) in depth.[27][28]. The southern males also appear taller when fighting, due to their tendency to bend their backs more strongly than the northern species. Northern elephant seals are found along North America’s Pacific coast, with a range that stretches as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico. elephant seals can dive a mile or more below the waves. Into the Deep with Elephant Seals - initially aired on May 4, 2011, Sort By: Point Reyes Station, CA Its range is mostly in warm waters. Elephants are grayish to brown in color, and their body hair is sparse and coarse. Males arrive in the colonies earlier than the females and fight for control of harems when they arrive. [34] Cases where weaned pups have been attacked and killed by leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) and New Zealand sea lions (Phocarctos hookeri), exclusively small pups in the latter case, have been recorded. Southern elephant seals from different colonies frequent specific oceanographic regions to forage.They feed most successfully in areas with specific hydrographic properties, e.g. [37] Most of their important breeding sites are now protected by international treaty, as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or by national legislation. Elephant seals differ from humans in that when they dive, they carry all the oxygen they need in their blood rather than their lungs. and Gymnoscopelus spp. The name elephant seal comes from the size of the male nose, which resembles an elephant… As they dive, the seals fat is also compressed so that the animal loses its buoyancy and sinks, allowing it to achieve great depth with little effort. One Southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina, somehow swam to Indiana around 1000 years ago. Martialia hyadesi[31][32] and other molluscs, various fish species, including lanternfish (i.e. What allows such deep diving? The outcome is rarely fatal, and the defeated bull will flee; however, bulls can suffer severe tears and cuts. Slightly larger than their southern counterparts, these elephant seals range from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California. Studies have indicated elephant seals from South Georgia are around 30% heavier and 10% longer on average than those from Macquarie Island. Some individuals at the time of moulting have been found in South Africa or Australia. [45] Elephant seals prolong their dives by reducing their heart rate. [29] Individuals will return annually to the same hunting areas. When foraging for food, Southern elephant seals travel between 40 degrees latitude south and the continent of Antarctica. The body of the Pacific harbor seal is plump but tapers to small rear flippers permanently extended posteriorly. (Sexual dimorphism is the difference between males and females). The least successful males have no harems, but they may try to copulate with a harem male's females when the male is not looking. Their life span is about 14 years for males, 16 to 17 years for females. Adult males weigh between 2,200-4,000 kg are average length of 4.2 m with a maximum of 6.2 m. Today, thanks to government protection and the seals' distant lives at sea, the worldwide population has grown to an estimated 210,000 seals. This includes lands in Antarctica and islands in the southern part of Africa, South America, and Australia. Adult males use their large, inflatable noses during the winter breeding season to resonate sound when vocally threatening each other. [42] The well-being of southern elephant seals therefore mirrors that of the whole Antarctic ecosystem. Generally, they are enormous in size, being the largest pinniped species. In 2006, Minazo was memorialized by the Japanese noise musician Masami Akita, also known as Merzbow, in a two-volume album,[46][47] Learn - Find out more about elephant seals and share information with friends and family. The northern elephant seal is the second largest seal in the world after the southern elephant seal. Some males can stay ashore for more than three months without food. [45] Minazo has also been featured on several T-shirt designs. Male elephant seals reach 16 feet in length and weigh up to 4,000 pounds. Some individuals also breed on Amsterdam Island. Today, there are approximately 160,000 northern elephant seals. Recently Updated In the ocean, the seals apparently live alone. Shuker K., 2014, The Beasts That Hide from Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals, pp.138, Cosimo, Inc. van den Hoff, J., Burton, H. & Davies, R. Polar Biol (2003) 26: 27. This includes lands in Antarctica and islands in the southern part of Africa, South America, and Australia. SOUTHERN ELEPHANT SEALS ARE HUGE. One bull elephant seal would yield nearly 25 gallons of oil. Studies have shown the existence of three geographic subpopulations, one in each of the three oceans. The pectoral fins are used little while swimming. The second part of the ten-part Science Behind the Scenery documentary featuring Science Advisor Dr. Sarah Allen talking about the northern elephant seal at Point Reyes National Seashore. Most of the animals make their way along the coast, but some venture into Puget Sound. Southern elephant seal. The elephant seal (genus Mirounga) is the world's largest seal.There are two species of elephant seals, named according to the hemisphere in which they are found. The majority of these rookeries are in California and northern Baja California, ranging from Point Reyes National Seashore, California to Isla Natividad, Mexico. Macrorhinus elephantinus. It's just a natural haven, a natural sanctuary for these animals to come and rest, and reproduce, and recharge. These projects focused on southern elephant seals because they are deep divers as well as a major predator in the Southern Ocean in terms of their population size and food consumption. Elephant, largest living land animal, characterized by its long trunk, columnar legs, and huge head with temporal glands and wide, flat ears. Range: Pacific coast of N. America: Vancouver Island to C. Baja California.. Habitat: Breeds on offshore islands.. Point Reyes National Seashore is one of the few places on the Pacific Coast where northern elephant seals may be observed and studied. Minazo became popular for his signature bucket-holding, tongue-lolling pose. They dive repeatedly, each time for more than 20 minutes, to hunt their prey—squid and fish—at depths of 400 to 1,000 m (1,300 to 3,300 ft). Lost animals have also been reported from time to time on the shores of Mauritius, with two reports from the Río Guayas estuary area in Ecuador[17] and a beach in Lima, Peru. Northern elephant seals are found along North America’s Pacific coast, with a range that stretches as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico. Each year a northern elephant seal will swim about 21,000 km (13,000 miles). Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) inhabit large portions of the southern hemisphere. [25] After being born, a newborn will bark or yap and its mother will respond with a high-pitched moan. For more information, check out our Elephant Seals Resource Newsletter (1,284 KB PDF - Adobe® Acrobat Reader® may be needed to view PDF documents). Even more information can be found on the Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center's Elephant Seals webpage. Females grow to 9-12 feet and weigh between 900-1800 pounds. Males commonly vocalize with a coughing roar that serves in both individual recognition and size assessment. ), or speak with a ranger. These master divers usually descend to about 1,700 feet (518 m). Though we don't know exactly how many northern elephant seals were alive before the 20th Century, it has been estimated that fewer than 1,000 northern elephant seals existed by 1910. Global efforts such as the Southern elephant seals as oceanographic samplers[38] and the Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole to Pole projects[39] have led to the collection of a large suite of long-term coupled behavioural-oceanographic data. [11] The record-sized bull, shot in Possession Bay, South Georgia, on 28 February 1913, measured 6.85 m (22.5 ft) long and was estimated to weigh 5,000 kg (11,000 lb), although it was only partially weighed piecemeal. But researchers have recorded much deeper dive depths of 5,015 feet (1,529 m). The western snowy plover, a Federally threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, breeds on few California beaches. Approximately 260,000 bull elephant seals were harvested from 1910 - 1965. Northern elephant seals are in the family Phocidae, the true seals. Males return to the same feeding areas off the Aleutian Islands each year, while females feed in the open ocean of the northeast Pacific. The southern elephant seal is distinguished from the northern elephant seal (which does not overlap in range with this species) by its greater body mass and a shorter proboscis.The southern males also appear taller when fighting, due to their tendency to bend … They may use their stiff yet sensitive three to eight inch long whiskers to "feel" some food, such as Pacific hake, skates, rays, shrimp, small sharks and crabs. Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris) Habitat and Range Breeding colonies are found primarily along the California coast. Pups are born with fur and are completely black. These two-page summaries provide information about the questions that the researchers hoped to answer, details about the project and methods, and the results of the research projects in a way that is easy to understand. The southern elephant seal … [43] In the Southern Ocean, southern elephant seals associate more frequently with southerly, higher‐latitude fronts and frontal zones. [14], Southern elephant seal size also varies regionally. Seals are a diverse group of semi-aquatic mammals in the Order Carnivora. While their hind limbs are unfit for locomotion on land, elephant seals use their fins as support to propel their bodies. Pacific harbor seal Phoca vitulina. Habitat: The elephant seal is almost entirely aquatic, coming ashore primarily to breed. A seal resting on land has a heart rate of 55–120 beats per minute, but when it dives, the heart slows to 4–15 beats per minute. In summer, the elephant seals come ashore to moult. Geographic Range. Female philopatry and male dispersal are thought to be typical of mammalian species, although detecting genetic dispersal events remains difficult. Suggested explanations include a phenomenon of depression following a rapid demographic rebound that depletes vital resources, a change in climate, competition with other species whose numbers also varied, or even an adverse influence of scientific monitoring techniques. Also, rare plants native to coastal dunes are potentially at risk. To manage this balance, the park will continue its docent program, which provides visitors with on-site information and safety messages at the overlooks. To complete both round-trips, females journey over 11,000 miles, males 13,000 miles. )", Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, "Synopsis of the species of the class Mammalia", "Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna", "First records of elephant seals on the Guayaquil Gulf, Ecuador: on the occurrence of either a,, "Fluctuations in the Population of Southern Elephant Seals Mirounga Leonina at Kerguelen Island", Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, "First long-term behavioral records from Cuvier's beaked whales (, "Census of Marine Life – From the Edge of Darkness to the Black Abyss", "Approaches to Studying Climatic Change and its Role on the Habitat Selection of Antarctic Pinnipeds", "New insights into Southern Ocean physical and biological processes revealed by instrumented elephant seals", "Variations in behavior and condition of a Southern Ocean top predator in relation to in situ oceanographic conditions", "The importance of Southern Ocean frontal systems for the improvement of body condition in southern elephant seals", "Popular Enoshima aquarium seal dies after 10​, "Biology, threats and conservation status of the SUB-ANTARCTIC FUR SEAL AND SOUTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL in Australian waters", images and movies of the southern elephant seal,, Fauna of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Fauna of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Wikipedia indefinitely move-protected pages, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 7 January 2021, at 12:22. Like all seals, elephant seals have hind limbs whose ends form the tail and tail fin. Most older males are a dark brown whereas females range in color from various shades of brown to blond. The largest colonies of northern elephant seals are found off southern California in the Channel Islands. 94956. [2] John Edward Gray established the genus Mirounga in 1827. [21], Elephant seals are among the seals that can stay on land for the longest periods of time, as they can stay dry for several consecutive weeks each year. These activities occur at rookeries that are located on offshore islands or remote mainland beaches. Behavior: The elephant seal is a powerful swimmer and well adapted to an aquatic life. According to NOAA, northern elephant seals range as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think it's fair to say that Point Reyes is like pinniped heaven. They store O 2 in blood and muscle by attaching it to special protein molecules called globins.Avoiding gas in their lungs prevents some problems such as decompression sickness. Satellite tracking revealed the seals spend very little time on the surface, usually a few minutes for breathing. Throughout this period, the female fasts. [8][15] The maximum size of a female is 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) and 3.7 m (12 ft).[8][16]. Northern elephant seals (M. angustirostris) are found in coastal waters around Canada and Mexico, while southern elephant seals (M. leonina) are found off the coast of New Zealand, South Africa, and Argentina. Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) have hunted elephant seals near Campbell Island, while bite marks from a southern sleeper shark (Somniosus antarcticus) have been found on surviving elephant seals in the Macquarie Islands.[35][36]. Fanning out from their initial secluded spot, the seals have expanded to popular beaches, causing concern for both their safety and that of their human visitors. While sailing along the Pacific coast in the 1800s, a whale and seal hunter named Charles Scammon reported seeing northern elephant seals from Baja California in Mexico to Point Reyes in California. (GA image) Elephant seals will migrate back to the beaches where they were born, each summer, and undergo a molt. Elephant seals, like other sea-going animals have darker backs and lighter bellies to help camouflage them from predators and make them less visible to their prey. The male southern elephant seal can be an incredible 10 times the weight of the female! Only sperm whales dive deeper and longer. Loss of habitat to beachfront development and human recreation has forced elephant seals and plovers to compete for limited protected space. Elephant seals undergo a catastrophic molt (on land) where large pieces of their fur and skin slough off. After about three weeks, they have eaten so much that their dive pattern changes to a flat-bottom dive, following the bottom contours as they rest and digest. The New Zealand population is concentrated on the Antipodes Islands and on Campbell Island. The population now seems to be stable; the reasons for the fluctuation are unknown. In 1922, the Mexican government banned hunting, followed shortly thereafter by the United States government. Northern elephant seals are found along North America’s Pacific coast, with a range that stretches as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico. As a result, they face little competition for food. Northern elephant seals have a range from Alaska to Mexico, according to NOAA. Lactation lasts an average of 23 days. Males and females make separate biannual foraging migrations. The largest subpopulation is in the South Atlantic, with more than 400,000 individuals, including about 113,000 breeding females on South Georgia;[18] In 1981, the first breeding pair was discovered near Chimney Rock. While elephant seals may come ashore in Antarctica occasionally to rest or to mate, they gather to breed in subantarctic locations. The bulls have a huge proboscis, [1] and may weigh 750 lbs, and 8 ft in length at maturity although old males can approach 11 ft long and weigh 1,375 lbs in rare cases. Natural History. Due to the inaccessibility of their deep-water foraging areas, no comprehensive information has been obtained about their dietary preferences, although some observation of hunting behavior and prey selection has occurred.[30]. McMahon, C. R., Burton, H. R., & Bester, M. N. (1999). Protect Habitat - Prevent domestic dogs from roaming, follow park regulations and guidelines listed on this website and at trailheads. But long-distance swimming is only part of what makes the physiology of northern elephant seals so extraordinary. )[3]Macrorhinus elephantinus[4], The southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) is one of two species of elephant seals. Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from South Beach to the Lighthouse and Chimney Rock areas WILL BE CLOSED during shuttle operating hours. Northern elephant seals are mysterious and unique creatures. They are found most often in the savannas, grasslands, and forests of Africa and Asia. Southern elephant seals haul-out on sand or gravel beaches with easy access as large males in particul… [5] [6] [7] The average length of their dives is around 20 min for females and 60 min (1 hour) for males, as they search for their favorite food. A number of organizations are concerned about the welfare of elephant seals in California and throughout the U.S.A. Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details, Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center, Science Behind the Scenery: Northern Elephant Seals, San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network, Harbor Seals and Northern Elephant Seals: Indicators of Marine Ecosystem Condition. Photo by Frank Schulenburg. The northern elephant seal lives in the eastern Pacific Ocean. As for the duration, depth and sequence of dives, the southern elephant seal is the best performing seal. But they don't store and carry it as a gas in their lungs. Imagine being able to live in such extremes! Two fighting males use their weight and canine teeth against each other. Large gatherings of the seals — including adult males that can weigh up to 4,400 pounds and reach 19 feet in length — are typically found along the Pacific coast in areas called rookeries. The world population was estimated at 650,000 animals in the mid-1990s,[1] and was estimated in 2005 at between 664,000 and 740,000 animals. The first moulting accompanies weaning. Each year the northern elephant seal migrates farther than any other mammal in the world, traveling as many as 13,000 miles (about 21,000 km). This documentary describes how the resurgence of their population at Point Reyes, and throughout the Pacific, demonstrates the success of marine conservation laws. Like other seals, the vascular system of elephant seals is adapted to the cold; a mixture of small veins surround arteries, capturing heat from them. Although their locations and diving patterns differ, both sexes dive repeatedly for four to five months during summer and fall. They migrate north in summer to feed in waters exposed by melting ice. Pacific harbor seal Phoca vitulina. Elephant females are only fertile for about 2 days of every 3-4 month period, so mating opportunities are limited (Brown and Brown, 2014). The name elephant seal comes from the size of the male nose, which resembles an elephant… the other breeding colonies of the Atlantic subpopulation are located on the Falkland Islands and Valdes Peninsula in Argentina (the only continental breeding population). IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the high volume of traffic out to the Lighthouse and Chimney Rock areas during the elephant seal pupping and mating season, the park will be operating a shuttle bus system from the Drakes Beach parking lot (usually from New Year's to Easter each year on weekends and holidays—weather permitting). However, the foraging success in association with these regions varies strongly according to year, season and sex. The park's task is to balance the expansion of the elephant seal colony while providing for the health of other species. Akita's intention in celebrating Minazo was to highlight the plight of captive animals used for performance before public audiences. When at the subantarctic or Antarctic coasts, the seals forage largely on deep-sea cephalopod species such as Psychroteuthis glacialis, Alluroteuthis antarcticus, Histeoteuthis eltaninae, Onykia ingens, Gonatus antarcticus. In the following decades, a fe… Why do they dive so deep? The northern elephant seal is the largest of the “true” seal in the Northern Hemisphere. Only sperm whales dive deeper and longer. The world population was estimated at 650,000 animals in the mid-1990s, and was estimated in 2005 at between 664,000 and 740,000 animals. Southern elephant seals can dive from 400 to 1,000 meters (1,300 to 3,300 feet) for up to 20 minutes at time. In 1981 elephant seals established a breeding colony on the Point Reyes mainland, a site at which there is no historical evidence for breeding (Allen et al. The southern elephant seal is the most ‘sexually dimorphic’ of all mammals. [9], In the nineteenth century the species was often called "bottle-nosed seal". Elephant seals presumably feed in deep water and eat squid, and fish, including small sharks and rays. This is a young male Southern elephant seal from the South Shetland and Anvers islands, Antarctica. [23] The dominant bulls (“harem masters”) establish harems of several dozen females. In the early 1800s, it was abundant and widely distributed on the Pacific coast of North America, from Baja California, Mexico to northern California, United States (Scammon 1874; Stewart et al. After their near extinction due to hunting in the 19th century, the total population was estimated at between 664,000 and 740,000 animals in 2005,[17] but as of 2002, two of the three major populations were declining. When foraging for food, Southern elephant seals travel between 40 degrees latitude south and the continent of Antarctica. The size of seals ranges from 3 feet 3 inches for the Balkan seal to 16 feet for the southern elephant seal which ranks as the largest carnivoran. This pattern, and the incredible amount of time spent below the surface, explains why so few of them have been seen in the open ocean despite their rapidly growing population. Elephant seals range from Mexico to Alaska in search of food and spend 80 percent of their life in the open sea. Young weaned seals gather in nurseries until they lose their birth coats. Large gatherings of the seals — including adult males that can weigh up to 4,400 pounds and reach 19 feet in length — are typically found along the Pacific coast in areas called rookeries. Before diving, elephant seals exhale; collapsing their lungs so there is little air to be compressed. When severe storms occurred in 1992, 1994, and 1998, many pups were killed. Genera Lepidonotothen, Pleuragramma, Trematomus, Pagothenia,), Channichthyidsae spp., Bathylagidae spp.,[33] krill (mostly Euphausia spp.) They are able to propel themselves quickly (as fast as 8 km/h (5.0 mph)) in this way for short-distance travel, to return to water, to catch up with a female, or to chase an intruder. 1989). To stay underwater so long, southern elephant seals … Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call. They also are exceptional divers, plunging down to between 1,000 and 2,600 feet (roughly 300 and 800 meters) below the water surface and staying submerged for anywhere from several minutes to more than an hour. This structure is present in extremities such as the hind legs. Tracking studies have indicated the routes traveled by elephant seals, demonstrating their main feeding area is at the edge of the Antarctic continent. Large gatherings of the seals — including adult males that can weigh up to 4,400 pounds and reach 19 feet in length — are typically found along the Pacific coast in areas called rookeries. Its range is mostly in warm waters. As top predators in the Southern Ocean, southern elephant seals inhabit one of the most sensitive and vulnerable regions to rapid climate change. This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; shuttle bus system status; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc. They provide a range of services, from educational materials to studying the animals' needs. The streamlined bodies of seals feature four limbs which have … [12][13] [24], An elephant seal must stay in his territory to defend it, which could mean months without eating, having to live on his blubber storage. Weaned pups and juveniles may fall prey to orcas. Out of all of the pinniped species that use the park's coastline, elephant seals are the most charismatic. Range Northern elephant seals are found in the coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of Alaska down to Baja California. They are built to survive continuous dives to depths that would squeeze the life out of any other mammal. A bull southern elephant seal is about 40% heavier than a male northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), more than twice as heavy as a male walrus (Odobenus rosmarus),[5][6] and 6–7 times heavier than the largest living terrestrial carnivorans, the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) and the Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi). Elephant seals dive to 1550 metres beneath the ocean's surface: the deepest recorded dive of an Elephant seal is 2,388 metres (7,835 ft) . In 2004, the Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center produced a DVD entitled "Science Behind the Scenery."