Juvenile northern elephant seal Big Sur California. This little guy seemed happy to see me and vocalized and spun around, watched me and entertained the heck out me. Of course I fell head over heels for these guys.
Male northern elephant seal in full battle call. Their trumpeting battle calls can be heard from far away.
Heavy hunting reduced northern elephant seal populations to a worldwide low of less than fifty. Protection implemented by the US and Mexico have restored current populations to approximately 175,000. Although most northern elephant seals mate and give birth on offshore islands, 20,000 return annually to the Big Sur area on California’s coast.
In December mating season male’s battle violently for control of beaches and females, and gather harems.
Their battles definitely grab your attention and take place both on land and in the water.
Males weigh up to 5000 pounds and are up to 15 feet long.
The juveniles are adorable and curious little guys.
Mating agression is not the norm. Elephant seals are usually mellow creatures.
Please stay tuned for more photos of these remarkable colonies of fascinating animals that were nearly poached to extinction.
Cheers to you from the Caly’s magnificent ellies~
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
186 thoughts on “Caly’s Ellie’s~”
Cute little fellow.
And cute 5000 # fellow too! 😉
These guys make my heart smile and your photos of them are amazing. TY of sharing.
If they make your heart smile, than I am happy!
I enjoy them on animal planet.
Yes, and they are even more incredible 20 feet away!!!
I could imagine.
Seems you caught yourself a photogenic seal 😀 lol
Oh please wait, there are soooooo many more, young pups, older females, groups of adolescents, and huuuuuge mellow males. Just awesome~
I look forward to seeing them 🙂 🙂
Ano Nuevo? Surely not La Jolla Cove. I’ve seen dead bodies there (seal I think).
Ano Nuevo has a colony but it is regulated in terms of visiting since it is nearer to civilization, you need reservations and guides. Big Sur you can pull your car off the road and walk over to a colony. LJ Cove has seals, sea lions, and some great whites.
Note to readers: read up on this before you do this. This are BIG wild animals.
They are gorgeous! The first one is soon cute!
It was so hard to choose the initial photos. Please stay tuned to see the colony, the females, the mellow males, the aldolescents, and all the behavior~
I meant soooo cute!
I knew, thank you!
These are magnificent photos Cindy. Those young pups are so adorable. Makes you want to just walk up and hug one. Great photography. I’m looking very forward to more photos. I’ve really enjoyed the red tail hawks also… several times. Thank you so very much for sharing these pictures… some of us never have the opportunity to see them with our own eyes and it is wonderful of you to provide us with the opportunity to see them through yours.
Have a wonderful night.
Oh, you are the sort of person that got me into blogging in the first place, and keeps me blogging now. My first post, I thought, no one will be interested. And then one or two people were, and they cared about content.
I blog for the people who care about content, and I care for the bloggers whose content I care about.
Thank you for such an encouraging comment & cheers to you~
Oh, too sweet! 🙂
The 5000 pound male maybe not so much to the female or rival though~ lol!
Cheers right back at you 🙂 Thank you for the beautiful pictures. I love animals and you made me smile. Have a very happy Holiday Season my blogging friend 🙂
And you too my wonderful blogging, animal loving friend~ <3
Could these be any cuter?
Not in my book…….
Seals have been my favorite animal since I was a little kid. I had a seal pup stuffed animal and he was my constant companion. I love these pictures. I have never been this close to any of them, not even at a zoo. Thanks for sharing these gorgeous pictures. 🙂
I am really happy you enjoyed them and know how one bonds with a special stuffed friend. I am posting more pics in a few days so take a peek and see which one looks most like your childhood friend~
Amazing! The “little” ones look pretty big!
Yes, they are born at 60 pounds but that is tiny compared to the 5000 pounders!
it scared me. Great angle.
Sorry for the fright, the babies you will like though!
ha ha they are bigger than I imagined. I saw a baby Penguin learning how to walk and it was so cute.
That I would love to see!
So many wonderful shots! It must have been quite an adventure!
I love the big eyes in the first one 🙂
Yes, the first time I saw them was in the water years ago, this massive head and saucer sized eyes popped up in the water looking like some massive alien!
They are so cute!
They really are!
They are so cute and with character and personalities to match. 🙂
Exactly! Endlessly interesting to watch!
I guess you found them in spades! Wonderful photos!
Indeed, one just followed the sound of the male’s bellowing!
Great selection of pictures Cindy. I can see why you fell in love with them.
xxx Huge Hugs xxx
Very glad you enjoyed them my friend!
I can see through the eyes a certain peaceful beauty…that produces a lovely smile within me….awesome pictures Cindy, thanks for always sharing these gems!
Oh I am so happy you can see this Wendell! It is what I see in the eyes of wild creatures~
Superb images…..thank you very much:)
Very beautiful work, Cindy!
My curiosity compels me to ask what I hope is not an impertinet (sp?) question –
just when are you AT that holler of yours? (-:
Laughing, not at all impertinent. It is quite true that as travel becomes a life style, one is more accoustomed to life on the road than at home!
We used to go to Big Sur on summer vacations years ago, but never saw anything this spectacular. I am astonished how close you got to them. Absolutely wonderful photos!
If you get away from the carefully patroled main beach and just stop at random beaches, or when you hear the males bellow, you can literally walk upon them. One must exercise caution. There are thousands of them, strewn along miles of beaches.
Incredible photography! What a beautiful sight. Thanks for sharing, really made me smile 🙂
Then I am really happy I posted! Cheers to you~
The photographs of the elephant seals are interesting,Cindy.
Very glad you enjoyed it my friend~
Lovely stuff. It’s those big dark eyes, they look at you as if they know you and like you straight away. 🙂
Yes, if people spent more time looking into wild creatures eyes, they would hopefully be less likely to kill them for fun~
These are brilliant photos… National Geographics good….
Awwwww, you are very kind and most appreciated~
Great photos! Here on the east coast I usually only see seals from a distance so it’s hard to get a good picture. These are all great. In fact, you look to be closer to fighting males than I’d care to get!
They definitely have warning gestures to keep you from getting too close. I always respect wild creatures space, especially when they are grumpy and weigh 5000 pounds!
Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
Cindy Knoke has the cute factor working on her blog this week with these endearing creatures that have struggled to come back from near extinction thanks to man and poaching.
Thank you so much for your kind thoughtfulness my friend and cheers to you~
Outstanding photo, Cindy, wonderful to look at. RH
So glad you enjoyed them! Impressive creatures~
How wonderful to see these bewitching creatures – look forward to more
That is exactly what I was, bewitched, and I am glad you want to see more because these initial pics didn’t do the colonies and the variety justice. Thank you!
I am in love – those big brown eyes have won my heart 🙂 Never made it to Big Sur – that one high bridge stopped me dead in my tracks. Even with Gene driving… Stayed at the Tickle Pink Hotel – beautiful condo with two views of the ocean 🙂
Yes I know the bridge you speak of. Big Sur is probably not good for those who prefer avoiding heights. The cliffs are quite dramatic and vertical~
I’m glad you found what you were looking for on your journey. They’re all great shots but the first one I’m not sure what emotion to land on. It’s funny and poignant and peaceful….
Comical too. He was at first trying to warn me away and then I became convinced he was just entertaining me! So endearing~
Animals are so instinctive — didn’t take the cutey long to figure out you just wanted to share joy.
SOOOOOOO much indescribable happiness to share joy with a wild creature! <3
Awesome shots. I look forward to seeing more 🙂
Oh good because there is much more so see of these magnificent creatures~
Wonderful post. I enjoyed seeing the photographs of the elephant seals.
So happy you did & cheers to you~
Your skill as a photographer who can capture the most fascinating expressions and scenes never ceases to amaze me, Cindy. Thank you for sharing these touching photos and information about these wonderful elephant seals.
Awwww, you are a kindred spirit my friend~
LOVE! Beautiful pictures!!
Oh Cindy – they are MAGNIFICENT – both the seals and your photos – absolutely STUNNING! What an incredible sight to witness, so big yet so cute – thank you for sharing 🙂
I can tell you react to them like I did. Just engrossed and fascinated! Thank you~
Hi Cuz … You da bomb !!! The pics are fantastic, Cindy. The first two had me smiling, then further down the “male chorus” had me laughing! And that you have even more pics is incredible. Been to La Jolla a few years ago and saw the gang at the cove and I thought that was great but wasn’t able to get close for any good pics. You obviously enjoyed your trip ! 🙂
Thanks much cuz! Heading home today, time to gear up for Xmas~
Really cute, Cindy. Peggy and I love that elephant seal beach. It is always fascinating. –Curt
And each year they spread out further which improves viewing options from the one main beach at Piedras Blancas.
Hard to find animals more photogenic. And I love their antics. We’ve only been to Peidras Blancas a couple of times but there is also an elephant seal beach near San Francisco. –Curt
Yes, ano nuevo, and in Big Sur there are lots of people besides piedras full of seals with no people in case you ever go back……
Cindy they are so adorable! Almost as much as the otters that we use to swim with in and around Monterey Bay!
Those otters are still there and even more of them. They have to be one of the most beautiful sea creatures and we got within a nano-second of exterminating all of them~
Wonderful! They are a treasure!
They are indeed and cheers to you Lea~
Bien sur! 🙂
Fabulous photos as always 🙂
Your kindness is most appreciated! Cheers to you~
They are adorable in these photos, Cindy!
So glad you enjoyed them!
First pic: that little cutie sure knows how to pose. 🙂
He is a natural model!
Visa versa 2 U X 2 my dear friend! <3 <3
The best elephant seal photos I have ever seen, Cindy! I thought I was watch the Nature program on PBS! How did you do it ?! Love the first one to death…
It is because you are so good hearted Amy. It was painful for me to edit these down to 8 photos. That first little guy performed a sequential ballet for me. First belly busting vocal warnings, then spinnings, then head moving. I took photos of all of this of course. When I finally started to walk away because my hubby was getting bored, he vocalized again, so I walked back, and he continued the water ballet. You have heard of love at first sight? This was it for me! <3
Yep, love at first sight for sure! I’d want to jump into the water and hug this little guy. 🙂 Are you going to post the sequential ballet photos? Love this post so much! Thank you, Cindy! <3
I am going to post more on the seals, not sure if the ballet will make it because I want to reflect the diversity without boring people with too many pics. If I don’t post, I am happy to email them to you if you would like. They are sooooo cute!
These are wonderful….they make me smile! Thank you.
Awwwww, then I am very glad I posted them~
They are just that and wonderful too!
Their eyes are so adorable and that’s what really get to me.
Yes me too, so full of sentience and emotion. So similar to gentle human beings, not mean ones~
Fantastic!! Is this Ano Nuevo?
Oh I missed your comment. So sorry. No not Ano Nuevo, which is more monitored. These photos were taken in southern Big Sur, only a few in Piedras Blancas. There are streches of beaches that are not monitored, not as frequently visited by people, where humans and ellies can interact more naturally. If humans don’t screw this interaction up, it could actually remain this way. Imagine that!
Oh! I wonder if they will be there the beginning of February. We are going down to San Diego via Hwy 1 so maybe I can check that out. Thank you!
Yes you can! There should stll be births occurring and after the births, there is mating before the females head back out to sea. Check out this organization re: Piedras Blanca. There is a 24/7 web cam so you can monitor what is occurring on the beach prior to your visit:
Be sure and visit other beaches in addition to Piedras Blancas where you can have a solitary and more interactive experience. I hope you post on this, I would love to see the goings on in Feb!
My first thought was ‘aww look at that cute face’ 🙂
Beautiful photos and post 🙂
They have completely adorable. very expressive mammal faces! <3
I know, wait to you see closeups of the massive bulls, they were still totally ohhhhhhhhh!
Heart-warming captures! I fell for these guys head over heels just looking at the pictures 🙂
Me too, can’t even contemplate obliterating them to near extinction~
They are fascinating and cute. I am wondering how close you get to the seals?
I am terrible at estimating measurement. We found them on several beaches and got considerably closer at the beaches where there were no other people. The seals were also much more interested in us at the beaches that had no humans. We were always at least 10 feet above the seals and probably another 10 feet or so away horizontially. We stayed further away from the bulls. The females gave a warning, wide open mouth, various vocalizations and then I would stop and take pics from there. Then they went back to sleep or watched me with open curiousity and I could move a bit closer and they didn’t mind. I imagine they could be quite lethal if a person was very stupid and approached them quickly or too closely. But clearly they are curious about us and enjoy us, at a reasonable distance.
That sounds very cool even at 10 feet away from the relative large animal. Thank you, Cindy.
Too close would not be a good idea!
I’M IN LOVE!!!!!!
Me too! <3 🙂
My favorite creatures – we never tired of seeing the elephant seals. Can’t wait to see them again when we visit in February!
You probably already know to go beyond Piedras Blancas then, they are on other beaches with no people and you can get closer (with caution) and they are far more interactive with you, a much better experience!
They are happily expanding their range – great news!
I am eagerly awaiting more of those fascinating elephant seal antics. Wonderful!
Oh good, now I’ll have to post! 😉
Wow, amazing shots, Cindy! What an exciting treat to view this annual spectacle in person. I didn’t realize that they were previously so perilously endangered. Glad steps were taken to right that wrong.
The estimated numbers of remaining northerns varied at the low point from less than fifty to twenty. The Smithsonian went on an expedition to find them when they were almost extinct, found eight on an island and killed seven of them for specimens. Makes one wonder about human beings who are in decision making positions……
The southern elephant seal is currently not doing so well.
God, ghastly! WTH? I hope conservation can bring the numbers back up. I donate to many organizations like TNC, EDF and WWF, hoping it helps.
Yes, I am not at all surprised that you do and I think it does help. Really elephant seals are a conservation success story in that the nothern’s have been successfully brought back from the brink of extinction, due both to decreasing use of their oil for lighting and the passage of The Marine Mammal Act. I have seen in my lifetime the increase in marine mammal populations in Caly waters due to the passage of this act. Otters and all seal species are far more prevalent. That said, due to the near extinction of the northern’s, their gene pool is too limited, there is a lack of genetic diversity that makes them vulnerable to disease.
The young ones are truly adorable, eyes like dogs…what a fascinating world of sea creatures you discovered. Thanks for sharing with us.
Thank you more for appreciating them~
To be on a beach alone with these fascinating creatures would be the ultimate wild life experience, to be able to watch them and take these lovely photos would be unforgettable. Thank you for sharing them with us, and I look forward to more….
You are just like me Pauline in what you find incredible in life. I am so glad to share this with you my friend. Be well~
Life is certainly what you make it Cindy and you have a real love for life that comes through in your images.
I do have a love for living which I have learned to nuture as I know you do too. It is so important to accept the hard and still find the good before you die or you will only realize what you didn’t appreciate when it is too late. I had a near death experience with my children and this was made very clear to me. I realized I was going to die and hadn’t really lived.
The aggression at mating, like most animals, is highly structured and ritualized. That’s not to say no one ever gets hurt — they do — but there are social limits to the violence.
Yes, my next post will document the hurt part. I didn’t want to emphasize the aggression or injury since there is so much more to their behavior, and this is only one small aspect. I wanted to balance it out. I also didn’t want to address the coerzion during mating issue so I have no idea why I am mentioning it to you now. I am going to try and go see who you are…..
Wonderful captures Cindy!! Were they showing off just for you? Sure looks like it.
You have a magic touch with the camera and what it sees 🙂
I think wild animals often are curious by a human with a camera plastered to their face. Maybe they see it as a large eye and think photographers are a different sort of human. Maybe they are right in that most wildlfe photographers only like to shoot animals with a camera!
That first little seal face is so adorable! Wow- what a cutie!
Wow! These cute little ellies are so big. 🙂 Great photos, Cindy.
Big little guys aren’t they!!!
They really have very adorable little faces, and those big eyes are too irresistible. I can see how they would put you under their spell. For years there’s been very vocalized controversy over sea hunting in Northern Canada. I really can’t fathom how you could kill anything for it’s fur, let alone something so harmless and gentle. Monsterous and unnecessary, as is many things man has done to helpless animals. Thanks for taking us to the beach Cindy!
Yes. It is hard to emphasize the brutality of some humans, while at the same time acknowledging the kindness of others. It is a puzzling dicotomy. I am grateful for the many decades I spent as a therapist, where the kindness of people just bowled me over, while at the same time the cruelty of the often more powerful minority, and the evil they engender, cannot be denied. See. It’s hard to describe.
Honored that you like them~
I am very glad you like them my friend!
National Geographic would be amazed…. 🙂
Laughing, you are very kind my friend~
And I am always right!!! Just ask my husband!! Seriously – you are a brilliant photographer!
Awwww, you are a sweetheart my friend~
Cindy, I love these pictures, thank you for sharing them with us. Hugs! Veraiconica
Hugz and happy weekend Veraiconica~
Some Beautiful shots.. .
What a tragedy it would have been if the elephant seals had been driven to extinction. I’m so glad that their numbers have recovered. The babies are just adorable. 🙂
The stupid cruelty of some humans, compared to the kind words and deeds of others is one of the most frustrating aspects of life on this planet. I heard the Wild Animal Park’s Rhino died, and there are now 5 left in the world. How irresponsible and arrogant we can be! And how wonderful that the WAP and others work so tirelessly to save the planet and it’s inhabitants.
I read that, too, and it broke my heart to know that they’re almost extinct. But you’re right–there are wonderful people working on behalf of Mother Earth and all her creatures.
A great series of pictures.
Very happy you enjoyed them & cheers to you~
Sweet and adorable eyes. They are haunting and seem to be worming their way into my heart, Cindy! You shared so much in these photographs that made me go back three times to really look at them.
Awwww, you are so sweet! Hugz & holiday wishes to you and your family~ <3