This is a guest post by Charmaine Coimbra, a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, who writes and edits two marine-focused blogs, Neptune911.com, and Neptune911forkids.blogspot.com. She also writes for local publications. Since 2008 she has volunteered as a docent for Friends of the Elephant Seal in San Simeon, California
Ten Fun Facts About Northern Elephant Seals
1. Elephant seal pups must be born on a beach because they can’t swim or hunt yet.
2. When an elephant seal mother weans her pup from her rich milk, the pup is now called a “weaner.” The weaner will live off of its fatty blubber for several months—until the day it leaves for sea and catches its first food. Elephant seals eat squid, octopus, hagfish (slime eels), rays, skates, small sharks and hake.
3. When weaners leave their birth beach for the sea, they remain alone until they return to the beach in late summer or early fall. All elephant seals stay alone when they leave the beach for the sea. They do not swim in pods, herds or groups.
4. It takes eight years for a male elephant seal to grow to full length, including his elephant-like nose. He may eventually weigh between 3000 to 5000 pounds (1350-2267 kg.), and measure 14 to 16 feet long (2.5 to 3.5 meters).
5. A female elephant seal doesn’t grow a long nose. She is also smaller than the adult male. She will weigh between 900 to 1800 pounds (408 to 816 kg.) and measure between 9 to 12 feet long (2.5 to 3.5 meters).
6. A male elephant seal’s roar is so loud that you can hear it from one mile away.
7. Male elephant seals from different rookeries (beaches where elephant seals go to twice a year) have their own dialect.
8. Adult elephant seals can dive below 5,000 feet (1.524 kilometers) to the bottom of the sea.
9. Elephant seals can stay underwater for almost 2-hours.
10. Elephant seals migrate two times a year. They swim about 12,000 miles a year.