Northern bull elephant seals weigh up to 5000 pounds and reach up to 16 feet in length! Their Southern counterparts are larger.
In addition to their size, they are quite bullish in behavior, fighting constantly with other males,
and forcing themselves on often quite unwilling females,
who are much smaller than they are.
On shore they dominate large harems and defend them from other males.
Male Northern Elephant Seals spend eight months alone at sea. They forage in deep dives 24 hours a day, often at the bottom of the ocean, where other predators are scarce.
The deepest recorded bull elephant dive was 5788 feet and the longest recorded continuous dive was just over two hours on one breath!
California male elephant seals forage at the edge of the continental shelf, all the way to the Aleutian islands. Orcas and sharks predate on them and approximately one in three males are killed each year, mainly by orcas.
Cheers to you from the bullish, and amazing, male elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Rookery in California~
Source (and for more information) check out: http://www.elephantseal.org/
212 thoughts on “Los Toros Del Mar~”
My they are huge!
They are spread over six miles on the shoreline. I was walking along the road next to them and inadvertently came upon an irate male. A 5000 pound irate creatures gets your full attention!
What did you do? Can they move fast enough to over take you? Sounds scary, Cindy.
I just walked away rapidly. As soon as he saw I was leaving, he stopped. It did get my blood pressure up a bit because it was unintentional on my part.
I’m glad to hear he wasn’t persistent.
So was I. Wild animals seem to respond to common sense and respect. Come to think of it so do humans!
Unfortunately that is a scarce commodity.
Another wonderful nature tale. These remind me of my early years watching Wild Kingdom! Thanks for sharing your lovely photos mixed with fun factoids Cindy!
I watched that with Merlin Perkin and Stan the wonderman! I really did like Stan!
That and Born Free were my favorite shows as a child. Thanks for reminding me of that innocent love for nature. <3
My God, you are just like me. I read Born Free, Living Free and Forever Free as a kid and was in love with Elsa the lion! <3
Me too! One day I want to see the lions and wildlife in Africa while they’re still somewhat free.
I have been twice. I think I could easily live there!
Fantastic Cindy. I’m envious.
They are incredible creatures. The females spend ten months at sea with no break!
Sounds like the burden of women everywhere, Cindy …
It does, doesn’t it!
How gorgeous are they and so full of character – I want one!
Laughing……I hope you have a very big place to put these VERY big guys! They are amazing aren’t they!!
You are surrounded by such amazing creatures!! Thank you, as always, for taking me along with you ❤
I wouldn’t enjoy it as much without you Dorinda~ <3
You’re the best! <3
So are you!
Impressive how deep and long they can dive!
It blows me away. They are mammals, but they go deeper than most whales, and they spend months entirely on land. Pretty remarkable adaptations~
I had no idea, there are so many amazing things to learn about other species. Thanks for highlighting it.
Thank you more for being interested!
Such cool photos
Thank you ma’am! <3
Aren’t they gorgeous? Just looking at them makes me feel the warm of the sun 🙂
They are hugely impressive in more ways than one! So glad you like them~ ( •̀ ω•́ )
Wow, that is amazing capability of the seals. Living alone for 8 months at a time is long from human perspective. I am wondering that is the reason they are bullish.
It doesn’t seem adaptive. Dominant bulls get huge harems and most males are left out of mating all together. Babies are squashed during violent mating. I guess the idea is that dominant males are passing on strong genes, but still it seems pointless. Maybe they are just passing on bullying genes!
I wondered about that as I got lost in your amazing photos. Too much alone time doesn’t improve any creature’s disposition perhaps? 🙂
Well that and excessive crowding have been shown to create irritability in both animals and humans. So they have only the two extremes. Total aloneness while they must be continuously alert for predation, following by excessive over crowding and challenges in the rookery. Poor behemoths~
I have never seen them in real. They fascinate me, they are rather big but also gentle.
They are just remarkable, particularly when you consider they were hunted to the needle point of extinction, there were something like 50 or 60 northern elephant seals left in the world. They were hunted for lamp oil mostly. Now at Piedras Blancas alone, there are 23,000!
I remember a few years back when I stayed at a hotel across the waters from them, wow they are loud lol 😀 great shots 🙂
They are always yelling at each other! As you approach the rookery, you hear that strange booming sound of the males bugling! I am so glad you got to experience this~
Almost like a room full of politicians lol
Now this got me laughing!!!! I won’t mention any names~
Wow! I was totally unaware. Gorgeous pictures, too. Thanks.
Thank you more for appreciating these big boys!
Goodness, the mouths on them! What I remember about the elephant seals is their pungent scent. But I suppose they aren’t keen on my scent either.
I didn’t pick up any scent, not like sea lions that can really reek! Maybe because while they are at the rookery the males and females never go to sea and never eat. They can loose half their body weight. Since they are not eating for over a month (the males longer) they are not excreting and not smelling. I am guessing here though…..
These are really ugly dudes, Cindy! But really scary, too! I was walking along a seal strewn beach in the Galapagos when I got too close and one of the bulls challenged me. I ran! Later I was joined in a swim by two seal pups – they wanted to play but I couldn’t keep up! Love the pictures – they bring back some nice memories.
That happened to me. I was walking on the road past the rookery when I can upon a male who gallumped after me. It wasn’t as intense as getting charged by a truly irritable bull elephant in Africa though! That was something! Most charges are mock, but still…..
It must have been incredible to swim with the pups! I have photos of them spinning in the water and wanting to play but I didn’t actually swim with them. Wonderful that you did!
It is not at all impossible I’ve been along that piece of shoreline when I visited the US, already far to long ago. There were creatures like these lying around, but I don’t remember a lot of noise. Maybe they were ‘just’ seals or sea wildebeasts (if you got sea elephants then why not wildebeasts). What they did do was lying snuggly on top of each other. Not the mating (raping) variant, but nice and cozy and with audible pleasure. I saw envy in the eyes of some of the lonely looking watchers at the edge of the parking lot. But I could have been mistaken.
I have seen what you are describing. The ellies stretch for six miles along the beach. The males with the harems and the babies are in the rookery, and then all the lonely males and some smart females who avoid the rookery stretch out along the shore. These distant males are the ones who are either adolescents or didn’t get a harem. They just lay there, right by the road sometimes, and get annoyed when you inadvertently come upon them! They are amazing creatures aren’t they! Very cool that you came here~
Their lives at sea fascinate me. The females are at sea longer than the males. I have been to Piedras Blancas at varying times of year. The first time I was there, the males were just arriving from their months at sea. They swam to shore with their heads up scanning the beach with these gigantic eyes that looked like plates and these just massive heads. I grew up swimming in California’s waters. If I ever saw one of these big males while swimming I probably would have had a heart attack!
No one mentioned this in the comments, so I will. At least the unwilling females get a break for 8 months. Wonderful photos, Cindy. <3
Excellent point and I love brave commenters! I saw some females that avoided the rookery all together and camped out on more distant beaches by themselves. Smart females! It was impossible for me to restrain myself from thinking, “If I was a female elephant seal, I would kit myself out on some abandoned beach and hang out with sea turtles or something.”
Ha ha! Glad to hear that there were some independent females. I’d hang out with the sea turtles also. 🙂
We would have our own peaceful colony. No bullying allowed!
Sounds good. 😉
Remarkable creatures! Thank you for sharing these insights and great photos Cindy 💛
Thank you for appreciating these big boys my friend~ <3
They are something, aren’t they? I once had lunch at a restaurant in Swaziland that had a deck over a rhino pond (many moons ago now). They were so big and aggressive and yet graceful (and very fast) in the water. The elephant seals remind me of them.
Wonderful photos. 🙂
Yes, I can see why! It is interesting because they use completely different muscles all the months they are out at sea and then when they come on land they seem awkward but impressive. It would be incredible to see them swimming at depths. They must just fly! Here is a video that a kid took showing a female at 894 meters! You can just see a tiny glimpse of her snout eating a hagfish. Amazing!
That’s amazing ! That’s for passing along the video. 🙂
You’re welcome. I keep thinking about this 14 yo genius from the Ukraine who did this~
Your photographs are always amazing. Thank you.
Thank you more for what you are doing. I am an admirer as you know~ <3
Beautiful photos and interesting story, Cindy 🙂
We live in an amazing world as you know in gorgeous Spain! Cheers to you Irene
Amazing photos of amazing beasts, Cindy. Thanks for sharing. The photos look as if you were on the beach with them, and close up, but I guess not. How close were you able to get to them? They look rather scary to get too up close and personal!
In the rookery there is a fence you stay behind on elevated ground. Past the rookery it got more tricky as the elevation drops off quickly and there is no more fence. I walked around a bluff and there were the seals and a bull. Basically, only a fool, or trained biologist ,would go on the beach. I stayed on the side trails and never went on the beach, but there are places where you get close inadvertently. When this happened once, I just walked quickly away. The closest I got was around 20 feet but this was on elevation, in other words, I was on an elevated bluff above the seals. The time I walked upon the seals, I was further away, but on level ground and this was more dangerous.
Honored! Thank you~
You’re the queen of Sealfies, my friend! (◦′ᆺ‵◦) ♬° ✧❥✧¸.•*¨*✧♡✧ ℒℴѵℯ ✧♡✧*¨*•.❥
Now I am cracking up……..
Great photos. Is this anywhere near Año Nuevo State Park? I saw the elephant seals there years ago when I lived in San Francisco. They are amazing.
It is about 80 miles south of there, at the southern end of Big Sur.
Naming them after elephants is quite apt! Incredible photos, and I can imagine the chorus of loud calls they were making too! Thanks again for this guided tour. By the way, this is Lynn. I changed my avatar (again)!
I love you new avatar! Most fitting~ <3
Marvellous shots – almost geological
Ah, thanks so much! There is a lot of volcanic rock there interspersed with sandy beaches.
What marvellous images. Just glad you didn’t get too close, they’re enormous and more than a little scary IMO 🙂
So kind! Thank you. I never get too close. I enjoy life too much and it would just cause problems for the creatures if I did.
Imagine being nagged by a whole harem. “My mother told me you’d never amount to much”. ” Yeah and when are you going to put up those shelves.” “Get off, I’ve got a headache.”
Exactly!! From either gender’s perspective, one spouse is all one can reasonably be expected to put up with! Thank you for consistently cracking me up Graham~
Free glued with every comment. 😀
Impressed beautiful photos 🙂 LG Alexander
So kind of you & appreciated too!
Great pictures and captions, Cindy. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 — Suzanne
Thank you more for appreciating these very big boys!
I like your photos, Cindy. 🙂
I like you Ranu! <3
There are quite some discussions going on there… 😉
Again great pictures 🙂 <3
I spend a big portion of my career providing treatment to spousal abusers. This rookery needs some serious treatment, but I fear the bulls would be treatment resistant! 😉
And humans aren’t? I have my doubts about that too 😉
Wow… I did not realize this huge fella can stay under water for so long time.
I didn’t either and it shocked me! It’s amazing~
I could not even imagine how big are their lungs to keep so much air and do not breath for so long. Human brain cannot stay with no air for more than 3-5 minutes. Might be they do not have brain at all. (It is just a joke). 🙂 It looks they have absolutely different breathing system.
They store oxygen in their bodies differently than other mammals. They store a lot more globin molecules in their muscles and blood. Check out this link from my alma mater:
Thank you, Cindy. I will check the link. I am intrigued!
They are one of nature’s intriguing-looking creatures, and that bullying behavior needs to be re-directed.
It does! The bulls need to be in my former court mandated spouse abuse groups!
Fantastic captures! 🙂
I found this comment in my wordpress spam folder. I’m sorry I missed it and thank you sincerely~
I had no idea they grew so large or dove so deep! Amazing creatures. If I ever get the chance, I’ll watch them from afar 😀
I hope you do go see them! Stay behind the fence and you’ll be quite safe.
You get to go to the most interesting places and take some of the most phenomenal photos! Wow!
This is so kind of you and very appreciated to! Cheers to you~ <3
I learn so much from your posts, Cindy! They’re candy for the mind and the eye! <3 Boy, the male elephant seals sound a lot like human males… 🙁
They are like testosterone gone mad! They need therapy but I fear they would be resistant~ 😉
Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
I am just about to hang up my keyboard for a few hours but could not pass these handsome creatures up.. Male Elephant Seals.. a tough life… thanks to Cindy Knoke for another amazing photo shoot..
It does put them into perspective doesn’t it, when you realize 1 in 3 of them die every year from predation at sea. They is a very tough life. Thank you and hugs to you Sally~ <3
These just aren’t very cute, are they (but don’t tell them I said so because they look more than capable of holding their own in a battle!!)
I won’t tell them. They might get offended and I would not want to see an offended male elephant seal! 😉
I always understood these guys were large but not this h.u.g.e. Wow. Wonderful photography. Thank you for sharing, Cindy. 🙂
Yes, they are too big to disagree with!! 😉
These are magnificent creatures, and outstanding photos you took of them, Cindy! I didn’t know they could stay submerged for that long.
I didn’t either. It amazes me!
They are amazing creatures, for sure! Love the photos.
Love you for loving these bullish big guys!
Reblogged this on Random Ramblings; Myriad Musings and commented:
Amazing that those pups become these gargantuan behemoths! Fantastic photographs of a phenomenal critter – thank you, Cindy!
Thank you for supporting our amazing wild creatures! They need our support~ <3
I can imagine that they are very noisy creatures!
They are almost as loud as super bowl fans last Sunday! But no creatures are that loud!! 😉 😉
4 and a half tons….., now that’s a lotta bull !!! Hi Cindy ! 🙂
Would you believe 2 1/2 tons !!! Hahahahaha !!! 🙂
I would believe tons and tons of bull!!! Laughing…..
Amazing – your photos show so much detail which I hadn’t appreciated
It would be kinda daunting to walk up to these guys and ask to examine them closely. Thankfully there is telephoto!
Oh my god, 16 feet!!!
This guys are serious! They are behemoths!
Amazing animals – their life must be rough, judging from all the scars. Great shots, Cindy!
Yes, their scars and a mortality rate of 33% per year for the males!
Darwin would love those stats. 😉
Natural selection in action.
Amazing pictures as always…and these are such huge creatures!
They are massive and amazing! Thank you Maniparna~
I have been to this rookery and you did an excellent job of capturing the immensity of the elephant seals, Cindy. Enjoyed the info too. We are so fortunate that these elephant seals grace our planet. Excellent post, always a treat~~
Yes we are very fortunate particularly to have them so close which wasn’t the case until relatively recently~
sinceramente mi fanno paura questi grandi mostri del mare, hai avuto coraggio con riprese così ravvicinate! e le immagini sono fenomenali!
mille grazie Cindy
Sei molto gentile! Grazie mille. Non si preoccupi. Rimango sicuro~ <3
Great informative post and wonderful pictures! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you more for appreciating the behemoths!
They look like the thugs that they are… but I still admire them.
Exactly. Love forgives all things!
Yikes! Ain’t nature … grand?
Yikes, yes! <3
I can not visualize 5,000 lbs. They need all that fat for the deep dives. Amazing!
They’re huge!! And so fierce! Awesome sight though 🙂
Wolfie would have his paws full with these guys!
He’d be running away! lol 🙂
Thinking……”BIG! BIG! BIG!”
Thinking….”Oh WOLF!!! GIANT MONSTERS COME TO EAT ME!! RUN FOR MY LIFEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!” 🙂
hee hee hee. And when he’s safe he thinks, “To bad they were too big to eat!”
What curious creatures Cindy– don’t we live in an amazing world?? thanks for the photos (beautiful as always) and the information– so interesting. xo
Next time at a cocktail party, if anyone asks you about elephant seals, you’ll be ready! 😉
ha ha ha!! Maybe I’ll have to bring them up myself– but they really are amazing… Hope you have a good weekend ahead Cindy. any plans?? xo
All my wife said was, “Who took your portrait?” Good thing she loves me!
A blogger said the same thing to me, so don’t feel too bad! 😉
Parecen estar entonando una maravillosa canción, pero me temo que será algo desafinada 😉 Un abrazo, amiga <3
Riendo! Estas en lo correcto! Ruidoso y fuera de tono! Abrazos mi amiga~ <3
What amazing creatures. And what a hard life it seems they have. Thanks for sharing, Cindy!
Thank you LInda and yes, a 33% percent annual death rate is extremely hard.
Now those are the true “bathing beauties”!
It is because they are so unself-conscious. Not a bit of worry about a bit of cellulite…..or thousands of pounds of it!
I love Piedras Blancas , Cindy even though I have only been there a few times. It is nature up close and personal. Doesn’t get much better. Great photos as always. –Curt
We like many of the same natural spaces my friend. We like these places because they help us to perceive ourselves and the world around us more accurately.
For me going to these places a lot confirms not only my relative unimportance, but the fact that I am infinitesimal, but connected to a far greater and more important whole.
Which is such a gigantic relief!
Always good to back up and see a bigger picture, Cindy. Also reminds us of how important, how precious that bigger picture is— and the need to protect it. –Curt
Up to 5000 pds! It’s wonderful to have such close look of these creatures. Thank you so much, Cindy for posting these amazing photo captures!
Thank you amy! They are berry-big-boys, clumsy on land, but graceful in the water~
Man…. And I thought our bulls here in Spain were kind of ugly.
Your bulls are magnificent!
They are actually quite magnificient animals, when you see them up close you see the power of the beast, the hair in your neck stand way up
I love them. We have several free range bulls at The Holler and an African Ankole Watusi bull with a 8 foot horn span. They are powerful and incredible creatures~
Fascinating, Cindy. 1,600 lbs.! That face! Oh, mamma. 🙂 Great photos too.
He’s pretty amazing isn’t he!
The sea-elephants appeared to be active the time you were there.
Yes they were getting ready for mating which should be happening around now …..
They give us a semblance of what is the animal kingdom with the lesser known species. In addition you can enjoy your photos that are great.
I am so glad you enjoyed them and happy weekend!
We saw a nature documentary, and one of the episodes involved a hungry bear attacking a pack of bull elephants. These creatures, normally gentle, are dangerous and aggressive creatures if provoked.
Oh yes they can be frightfully aggressive especially during mating and during dominance battles. That video must have been surreal!
The rookery for saving these wild seals. The size and imposition on the poor females probably is more distressing to us than the females which don’t know any better. Or so we hope, Cindy! Sad the babies are lost in the mating moments once in awhile. Take it easy, dear Cindy! <3 xo
Thank goodness for the rookery! Smiles, Robin
(Somehow I pressed a letter and I didn’t realize I lost the first part of .Y comment. 🙂 )
I don’t even notice typos. Obviously. I make so many of them! Hugs to you Robin and thank you for your thoughtfulness, as always my friend. <3
Bardzo dziękuję za twą uprzejmość! <3
Spectaculars all these pictures of the male elephant seals. What a gorgeous animal!
I will never forget the first time I saw one. It was an adult male and he was in the water approaching the beach. His head came up out of the water and his eyes were as big as saucers and his head was just massive! I was blown away by him. I still am. So glad you see their beauty too!
Must be astonishing to watch them for real in front of you, I guess I would be also blown away by one of them if I ever come to see him. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience
Thank you more for appreciating these wonderful creatures!
Fantastic shots Cindy – and I always thought they led the life of a lazy beach bum 😉 😀
They spend the bulk of their lives alone, hunting in mid-ocean. I was surprised to learn about this too.
Thank you for the like Cindy. 🙂
Sixteen foot long, that’s incredible!
He is one big boy and his eyes are as big as plates!