Piedras Blancas in California has a thriving rookery of Northern Elephant Seals, a sub-species of the largest seals in the world reaching up to 5000 pounds and 16 feet in length. Pups are born here mostly in the month of January.
Births peak mid January.
Over 5000 births occur annually here. Some nice mamas like this one, feed pups other than their own!
Elephant seals nurse for about a month, during this time, mothers stay with pups continuously and do not return to to the sea to feed until weaning is complete.
Elephant Seal milk is the richest milk in the mammalian world, which it needs to be since elephant seals grow so rapidly. This cheeky seagull pecked this little pup causing him to unlatch during nursing, releasing milk, which the seagull tried to drink!
Mama obviously did not approve!
There are still newborns in the rookery now, identifiable by their neonatal folds.
Maternal infant bonds are evident and strong! Mamas can be seen frequently kissing pups.
Northern Elephant Seal populations were hunted to the brink of extinction and by the late 1800’s there were under 100 of them left worldwide. The species has made a remarkable come-back due to conservation efforts and marine mammal protections.
Cheers to you from the friendly ellie-pups at Piedras Blancas Rookery~
To see how big these little guys will grow check out my post from a year ago about the bulls: