Big Bulls: Big Battles (Ellie Families Pt. 1 of 3)

It must be good to be an elephant seal bull…..
weigh 5000 pounds,
own beach front property,
and have a harem.
Then again, maybe not so good,
you can’t win every battle,
and losing looks too painful!
It must be tough to be a bull….
and sometimes quite discouraging….
Cheers to you from the extraordinary elephant seal bulls at Big Sur California~

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155 thoughts on “Big Bulls: Big Battles (Ellie Families Pt. 1 of 3)

    1. I imagine that if anyone could hug one of these Big boys, it would probably be you, Beautiful Belinda 🙂 I once saw a series of photos of a woman sitting with her legs extended (she was clothed) and I think it was two or three females, maybe four, came over and rested their heads on her legs. She did have difficulty getting up, but did not feel threatened. Perhaps they were another similarly sized critter, or maybe it was near here? I don’t remember I wonder if some seasons of the year are safer due to hormone fluctuations?

      Cindy, these other photos were interesting, but they were not art. Most of your photos could stand alone in a gallery and be the show. The rest would outshine Nat. Geo. My opinion. I am not an official anything.

      Did you know that Helen Keller was the first to discover that African lions purr. How? Being deaf and blind, she wanted to put her hand on the male lions throat, just to see if she could interpret — the way she was taught to feel the vibrations in her own throat in order to speak. It has since been found that lions DO have the resonating bone to purr. However no one else has dared to listen. The lion not only allowed her to approach, but purred for her. It is so low that we can’t hear it with ear hearing.

      Sometimes, when something precious is taken away, a different sort of understanding is — I was going to say given, but that is wrong. A different sort of enhanced or broader understanding is earned, through sacrifice and discipline and transcendence. I’ve been wanting to say that to each of you, but couldn’t seem to make it fit in, anywhere… and viola 😀 Here you both are.

      Please excuse me for butting in. Today I wrote you, Belinda, a Christmas card, used summertime bird stamps … I slipped over here to see these Big Boy Beach Bums and here you both are!! <3 <3

      1. You are a wealth of knowledge and I loved reading your comment! It could be a post in itself you know, meaningful to many I feel, particular as it pertains to Helen Keller. I’m grinning because I would so love to hug one! I’m excited to know mail is coming!!! Did you receive my card? I do hope so. HUGE HUGS

        1. Of course if you change you mind about wanting to cuddle cold wet sandy mountains, the pool maintenance/life guards/view enhancers are in the off season now, and would be happy to fly up to Canada.

          I have some actual practical ideas that I shall post on your blog..’Tis not really about elephant seals or art or travel or photography, but more like elephant seal substitutes, you know, if Pierre and Jose’ are not quite suitable, too light weight…..oh, and don’t worry, it is not inflatable. Hahahaha!

          If I made a blog post about any of thi, I would feel compelled to document stuff… what a bother. This is just hearsay and ideas amongst … sisters.

      2. Well I can’t imagine a nicer group for a chat.
        That is a fascinating story about Helen Keller. And yes, maybe it is the things we don’t have that make us better. The hardships we face, that can make us kinder, gentler and wiser. Like both of you. <3
        My children and I had the opportunity to touch a lioness at the San Diego Zoo. It was an indescribable experience. She licked our hands with a tongue that was gentle and warm but like the heaviest, roughest, sand paper. The sense of her contained power was overwhelming. I can't imagine what a male lion would be like. My son observed a dying tiger and was powerfully affected by the experience. With these male elephant seal bulls, who weigh up to 5000 pounds, and females who are so much smaller, the sense of power differential is compelling, but then you see the males beat each other up, and you realize they are all engaged up in a web survival. The most heinous thing in the northern elephant seal’s story is that we hunted them to a worldwide population of less than 50. The surviving populations lack genetic diversity due to this slaughter. The Smithsonian reportedly launched a survey to count the remaining seals, found an isolated island with 8 seals on it, and killed 7 of them for samples.
        Aggressive, entitled humans are of course the most brutal creatures on the planet, as we see horribly everyday in the news. The gentle ones, like you and Belinda, need to take the helm.

        1. I read today that there have been zero surviving O
          rca babies in the last three years. Zero. Is that true?

          “Experts: 100% death rate for baby killer whales along West Coast — ‘Alarm bells ring’ as no newborns have survived in past 3 years — “This is absolutely the worst thing possible”, pregnant orca dies with decomposing stillborn full-term fetus inside — “We’re going to lose them… they’ll be extinct for sure” We only had one planet – and we’ve trashed it GOOD.

          I posted an idea for a substitute for a cold wet sand mountain for some comfort with nerve damage.

          Greenpeace, Earth First, Nature Conservancy, even Avaaz are all trying. What is “Agenda 21” about?

          But the onslaught is so constant and pervasive… like a miasma seeping in….

          BTW many creatures, including humans have gone through genetic bottlenecks. Nature is amazing. Look at what is happening to arctic foxes kept in captivity for their fur … they are diversifying, from only a few captive pairs … multi-colored coats and other gene expressions that would not have been seen in the wild … dunno if its good or bad, it just is. There are albino crocodilians living in the warm runoff from nuclear reactors in France. FRANCE!

          P.S. I am not always gentle. I can and have been quite harsh. However a sustained consistent effort at anything is beyond me. I have limits to my energy and to my pain tolerance that seem harsh to me in the choices I am forced to make. But there it is. I am blessed in that I do get to still make choices. Many people, many writers on WP don’t get to make the choices I am privileged, or cursed, to make.

          I cannot be at the helm of anything, anymore. I would likely keel the entire ship over .also I am fairly far away from everything, and not all services are entirely reliable, including our internet server. I don’t even own a cell phone … I really do live on the edge of the swamp. And I really have been a hermit for a long time. And I have, on occasion, been spectacularly naïve. And the animals must be cared for twice/day and sometimes more, regardless of how any one feels, make that regardless of how I feel.

          I loved reading what you just wrote about your children and the lions and tiger and the seals. Some of that fat on the males is sacrifice flesh. My oungest explained to me about how gladiators tried to keep a paddng of fat to protect muscles and essentials… like the seals, it could be injured or lost and the being survive. “Tis sacrifice flesh.

          Good night, Cindy of the Kind <3 Heart.

      3. Oh the music is just wonderful! Thank you for sending it to me. I am always buying Celtic music as it centers me and this seems similarly evocative. Cheers to you my gentle, “sometimes harsh,” friend. PS, I don’t want to be at the helm of anything anymore either. <3

        1. Wings of Rapture Hagalaz’ Runedance written and sung by Andrea Nebel

          Dragon fly! Dragon fly! Through my eyes to the soul so old, From where? Dragon fly! Dragon fly! Spirit so young, filled with dreams and hopes… Never grow old! Dragon fly! Dragon fly! Broken Wings chained until the end Beauty that will die

  1. Oh dear, poor guy. That does look really awful. That was not a good day for him. They’re so beautifully graceful in the water. A shame about gravity and having to blubber onto a beach. I suppose they aren’t near as vain as me. LOL

      1. I love them. I’ve also heard of how much seals are hated for eating salmon. Some seals are actually being shot for eating the salmon at Washington state salmon reservoirs.

      2. Yes, before the marine mammal act was passed there were few seals/sea lions in socal waters because fisherman would shoot them. And of course there were basically no sea otters. The act has made a big visible difference in sea mammal populations in my lifetime, which is cause for hope.

    1. If you look at every photo I took of the alpha males on beaches where we were the only humans, you would see the same dynamic, initially they watch you, usually with one eye peeking and one closed, once they determine that you are not going to come too close they close both eyes and snooze. When you walk away, they open their eyes to watch you for a second or two. They are I think constantly observant of strangers in their environment, unless there are a lot of people like in Piedras Blancas where they tune the people out.

  2. Wonderful photos – I especially like the smooth and silky harem, such a contrast to the more interesting elephant seal bulls – I always love your work Cindy 🙂

  3. Incredible pictures Cindy! I imagined you’d have zoomed in with the camera for a lot of these pictures (scary thought getting too close to those males while they’re fighting!) But anyhow, how close were you from them (on average)?

    1. We got closer at the empty beaches, if you look at the photo of the harem above you can see the distance precisely. I walked all along the edge of the raised ridge taking photos. I was always above them.

  4. Those elephant sea bulls aren’t too much different from human men, are they? Lounge around the beach, get into a scruff, then sleep it off. 😀 The photos are great, thanks for sharing!!!

  5. Taking advantage of a lull in my morning to visit you and the seals.
    Wow! Good that they are protected now.
    I wonder if like deer they would be culled if the population got to great for the area?
    Fifty seems like a very small number. But enough to revive them!

    1. Yes, I think historically we humans have decried the application of sentience and emotion in mammals in order to justify killing them. My thinking about this has evolved since I started taking photos and looking closely into their eyes. I see intelligence staring back at me.

    1. It was really a thrill to pull up to a stretch of coastline and hear the males bellowing before you could see them. Quite fantastic actually, but I love seeing wild animals in natural habitats.

  6. Wow! No sitting around a conference table working out their differences. Back to basics. As for the first picture. Kind of looks like me in the morning. LOL Wonderful photographs.

    1. Laughing, yes. I read up on them a bit, but I need to find out what happens to aging bulls. I bet they get torn up and wonder what they do, when they can no longer hold their harem…..

  7. I enjoyed this friendly and funny beginning with the sea bulls, especially the comment about beach front property, Cindy! ha ha!
    I am saddened that any animal fights but I am sure this will be okay, just like people that punch or fight. I only wish that there were one on one combats in our world, this would cut back on a lot of deaths… Peace on Earth… Happy Holidays, to you and yours, Cindy!!

  8. These are amazing creatures! Beautiful shots, and of course they own beachfront property. I’m not sure I know why man thinks he can sell and buy what was only ever his to share.
    Um… are the girls as gorgeous as the guys? Are they all called sea bulls, even the girls?

    1. i will be posting the mom’s next, it is just my opinion of course, but i think the ladies are much better looking, more refined……laughing…… i am with you on the property bit, i would much rather these guys have it then any human. they take much better care of the real estate. they enhance the views too. i call them bulls, but this is probably incorrect, they just seem well, bullish to me, like more intimidating versions of the free range bulls at The Holler……and the free range bulls at The Holler are intimidating when you both are on the same side of the fence.. laughing more…….

    1. Yes, the scars are all over and I think you are righ on the touch life. The faces are very expressive and have the same feel as domestic dogs. I agree with all of your observations~

      1. Errrrrr, or maybe not, I am not going to endure wounds requiring surgery at any age…….I mean there is always chocolate for heaven’s sake……. there must be elephant seal chocolate equivalents, some succulent shrimp perhaps?????

    1. Oh yes, wild animals tend to know a human is in their space long before we notice the animal. It can be disconcerting when you fix the telephoto on animals you just spotted and see them all looking at you.

      1. Lions are so incredible, seeing them in the wild was a major life thrill…They came up to our open vehicle, but they were hunting and not us, so they streamed around us. Fabulous~

  9. Duh… Stupid me as always… Working backwards (because you’re behind) is not smart. Big Sur, eh? I never knew there were that many seals up there. There’s only a couple here now and I know there are hundreds up in Frisco…but Big Sur? Wow…or is it duh? 🙂

    1. It’s not duh, not even close. I always read sequential blog posts backwards, I sort of enjoy it. I just sent your Tokyo firebombing series to my friend Junko who comes from there. It should be published. Have you considered submitting it? It really is outstanding, if painful, but so important for people to read.

      1. Thanks for sharing it and the encouragement! Alas, I am not a writer and even if I pursued “publishing”, it will likely be a drain financially… Not enough courage! 🙂

    1. Yes, and of course I worried about him and googled to try and find out if he would be okay. In addition to the injuries you see here, he had a big chunk bit out near his tail. He looked in pain and shifted around a lot like one does when one is in pain. Poor, poor guy. These holes are just gaping and I hope he makes it. I have no idea how they heal or if they get infected. They were mostly in blubber except for the torn mouth. He needed stiches and antibiotics. There is a group called Friends of The Elephant Seals that looks after the seals, but they will not interfere in natural injuries, only human made ones. Although it is hard to figure what a ‘natural’ injury really is anymore in our compromised and degraded natural world and this species was almost annihilated.

  10. Amazing portraits with wondrous details dear Cindy ! Perfect timing,looks as if they are posing for you !!! Although they are h u g e … I suppose they are innocent and harmless. Great experience to see them close up !!!

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