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All in the Family

All in the Family
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: 2007-02-19
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon Powershot S3 IS
Exposure: f/3.5, 1/1600 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-03-01 3:44
Viewed: 3039
Points: 14
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This photo is dedicated to Annick, whose work I admire a great deal, and who wants to know what an alpha male looks like.

Actually this one is not an alpha bull yet. Note his small nose and smooth skin around the chest. Compare with this older male.

Okay, I realize that the light was all wrong, resulting in some grainy parts in the shaded areas. I was standing on a bluff facing west in the afternoon. There was not much I could have done in terms of where I was standing, or where the elephant seals ended up mating. But I still thought this was worth sharing. I actually watched the male come out of the water, engage in hot pursuit of the female, eventually mounting her... as her pup was trying to nurse. Keep in mind that the male weighs in at two and a half tons.

See pictures of the Ano Nuevo Colony.
See pictures of the Piedras Blancas Colony.

Northern Elephant Seal
Mirounga angustirostris

These large animals spend most of their lives at sea, coming ashore only to molt, give birth, and mate.

Breeding Season
The elephant seal breeding season begins in December, when the first males arrive. From fourteen to sixteen feet long and weighing up to 2 1/2 tons, these huge bulls engage in violent battles to establish dominance. The successful bulls do much of the breeding, with most of the duty falling on the "alpha" bull at the top of the social ladder.

In late December, the females begin to arrive and form "harems" on the beaches of the Reserve. Much smaller than the males, they average ten to twelve feet in length and weigh 1,200 to 2,000 pounds. Three to six days after she arrives, the female gives birth to the pup that was conceived the previous year. Normally only one pup is born to each female, and she nurses for 25 to 28 days.

Mating and Gestation
Females come into season and mate about 24 days after giving birth. However, the fertilized egg does not implant in the wall of her uterus for about four months a rare phenomenon called "delayed implantation". The theory is that the female is so weak after nursing and fasting that she doesn't have enough energy to nourish the egg. Since the seals' gestation period is seven months, this delay means that the young will be born after the female reaches her breeding ground the following year. The pups could not survive if born at sea. Adult females may mate several times before returning to the ocean, abruptly weaning their pups by desertion. By mid-March, most of the adult seals are gone, leaving the pups behind.


Dan, Silke, loot, oscarromulus has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Dan Gold Star Critiquer [C: 113 W: 0 N: 2] (18)
  • [2007-03-01 6:59]

Hi Manyee,
Intersting this family portrait of elephant seal. Is a fascinant animal with restless and dramatical life during the mating season and a lota of unknown behaviours. Great shot.
TFS, Dan

Hello Maynee,
This is an interesting post with excellent composition and pose from those imposing animals. Those tones of colors are not evident to expose properly and you did great! I love the way the biggest one is looking at you :) This is well done with very interesting notes. Thanks,

Hi Manyee,
I'm in heaven...an image dedicated to me;-)
To be honest, I do like your image.
More specifically the light. Really the light..
And the compo...
About the content: I like the three expressions....so this is what alpha males are doing...:-)
Anyway many thanks, Manyee!

Excelente foto, pena que o pessoal do site me proibiu de dar pontinhos.

  • Great 
  • Silke Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 729 W: 98 N: 1707] (5458)
  • [2007-03-02 6:45]

This is an amusing capture, Manyee and yet a very realistic one (as I know from visiting the San Simeon colony two years ago).
Superb composition and wonderful details

Lovely family life...A very nice photograph!


  • Great 
  • loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
  • [2007-03-10 23:42]
  • [2]

Hi ManYee

I could not make up my mind whether the female utters a cry of accomplishment or one in protest, but after reading that "the male weighs in at two and a half tons" I was convinced that it must be the latter. Whichever, it seems like she's utterly vocal about it and as for his expression; it is absolutely priceless, but on second thought maybe I should just leave it at that. Enough said.

A lovely "family portrait" of papa, mamma, and the kiddie with good composition and excellent interactive goings-on. I can understand your frustration concerning the lighting conditions and the limitations in vantage point, but I believe you did a great job with what you had to work with. The colours are very natural and the details are well defined.

Good work and TFS.

So much information within such little space..... AMAZING, the notes, I mean, Manyee.
And, of course, the image!!!!
Simply put: OUTSTANDING!!!
Best regards from Calgary, Alberta, Canada from,

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