Nature break: Elephant seals rushing ashore in California

by Simon Donner

Northern elephant seals come ashore in late fall every year in California’s Año Nuevo State Park to mate and to do battle. The videos below were taken in mid-December, after the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting.

Here’s a video of an seal coming ashore, slowly.

These are no ordinary seals. They are built more like whales or, as my nephews might say, Jabba the Hut. A bull elephant seal can weigh up to 2500 kg and be four to five meters long.

They can move surprisingly fast on land too, up to 10 km/hr, but only in short bursts. An elephant seal wouldn’t beat you in a 100 m sprint, but it would certainly commit a lane violation and crush you, and probably the rest of the runners, before anyone got out of the starting blocks.

Here’s a little scuffle between two bulls, one making the signature guttural grunt.

Finally, here are some young males “rushing” up the beach to avoid an adult male. This clip needs narration from John Cleese.

2 thoughts on “Nature break: Elephant seals rushing ashore in California

  1. Those seals are great, I’m lucky to live in the area and have been there nearly a dozen times.

    Lately I’ve been antagonizing the docents by suggesting that these are the dumbest of all the marine mammals – tiny brains, massive bodies, no parental training needed on how to survive. The docents don’t seem to like the label, but I think it’s just one more way that they’re exceptional.

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