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Northern Elephant Seal Mirounga angustirostris

The northern elephant seal is a large, ocean going seal that hauls out onto land to breed, molt, or rest in a few places along the Pacific Coast of North America. It spends most of its life at sea.

The major breeding colonies are off California and Baja California but they also take to beaches between Baja California and British Columbia, Hawaii and Japan (Wilson and Ruff 1999). The history of contact between humans and the elephant seal is both tragic and heroic. They were slaughtered by the thousands in the 1800s for their blubber and extirpated from California in the mid 1800s. By the early 1900s, only a few hundred were alive on Isle de Guadalupe, Baja California (Wilson and Ruff 1999). Hunting was halted and slowly the population recovered to over 100,000 individuals by 1992. Elephant seals undergo a molt each spring or summer when they haul out of the water. They appear to be sick as the fur falls out which has led to some being mistakenly killed. The elephant seal makes the longest and deepest dives of any marine mammal (Le Bouef and Laws 1994).

 

References

Le Boeuf, B.J. and R.M. Laws. 1994. Elephant seals: population ecology, behavior, and physiologyUniversity of California Press, Berkeley. .

 

Reeves, R. R. B. S. Stewart, P. J. Clapham and J. A. Powell. 2002. Guide to marine mammals of the world. National Audubon Society, New York.

 

Wilson, D. and S. Ruff. 1999. Smithsonian book of North American mammals. UBC Press, Vancouver.

Stewart, B.S. and R. L. DeLong. 1994a. Postbreeding foraging migrations of northern elephant seals. in B. J. Le Boeuf and R.M. Laws (eds.). Elephant seals: population ecology, behavior, and physiology. University of California Press, Berkeley

Stewart, B.S., P.K. Yochem, H.R. Huber, R.L. DeLong, R.J. Jameson, W.J. Sydeman, S.G. Allen, and B. J. Le Boeuf . 1994b. History and Present Status of the Northern Elephant Seal Population in B. J. Le Boeuf and R.M. Laws (eds.). Elephant seals: population ecology, behavior, and physiology. University of California Press, Berkeley..

 

 

 

 
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