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Young Elephant Seal


Young Elephant Seal
Photo Information
Copyright: Manyee Desandies (manyee) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-09-27
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon Powershot SX110IS
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2009-09-29 6:49
Viewed: 2934
Points: 4
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The Northern Elephant Seal
Mirounga angustirostris

The Northern Elephant Seal is an extraordinary marine mammal. It spends eight to ten months a year in the open ocean, diving 1000 to 5000 feet deep for periods of fifteen minutes to two hours, and migrates thousands of miles, twice a year, to its land based rookery for birthing, breeding, molting and rest.

August through November - Molting ends and juveniles return to rest
The last of the molting seals to appear at Piedras Blancas are the sub-adult and adult males. Their number is smaller than the number of molters early in the season but their size and sparring activity add considerable interest. The oldest of the marine mammals, the whales and sirenians, manage to grow new skin at sea but all of the pinnapeds come to shore to replace their aging skin. Rather than circulate the blood outside their blubber to nourish the new skin with the resulting great loss of body heat to the 40 degree water, the elephant seals return to the rookery from their feeding grounds and spend a month on the beach growing new skin in the less challenging environment of the ocean.

It is important to recognize the cost of this on-shore molting. The seals have to leave their feeding grounds for about three months - one month each way for travel time and one month on the beach. While there is limited foraging during the travel, there is complete fasting when at the rookery.

Beginning in August the first of the juveniles appear for the fall haul-out. They overlap the molting males at the beach but there is no ambiguity because of the great difference in size. Their numbers grow reaching a peak around the first of November then decline, with the last leaving the beach to the birthing females and returning males in late December.

While their stay on the beach serves no obvious function - such as molting, birthing and breeding - it not only provides a rest but also establishes the life-long pattern of two visits to the rookery each year. As with the molting males, the juvenile males in the rookery for the fall haul-out take the opportunity to practice their sparring skills.

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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • roges Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 957 W: 0 N: 1329] (6264)
  • [2009-09-29 7:00]

Hi Manyee,
super shot, very interesting.
And the description provided is very interesting. Thank you for this beautiful photo.
Have a nice day,
Adrian

A superb shot, Manyee!
He seems to be quite interested in your equipment!
Very well done!
Goldy

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