Northern Elephant Seal

Mirounga Angustirostris

The northern elephant seal is a unique species that has survived, against the odds, from a small population of anywhere from 5-100 individuals on Guadalupe Island, off the coast of Mexico. Elephant seals were hunted to near extinction in the 19th century for their blubber which was used to produce lamp oil. This species has made a remarkable comeback and can now be seen along most of the western coast of North America during various parts of the year. Northern elephant seals are named for their characteristic long nose which can be inflated to produce loud roaring sounds and also functions as a water-retention mechanism during long stays on the coast. Northern elephant seals also have incredible diving abilities that are being extensively researched in the hopes that these animals will provide us with more information about the deep ocean and an insight into the mechanisms that allow for such deep dives. An understanding of these mechanisms may allow humans to replicate them in advanced diving equipment, giving us the opportunity to explore the deep sea in the future.

Characteristics

Male northern elephant seals have a very distinctive appearance which makes them fairly distinguishable from any other seal species within their range. Males can be several times larger than females, can weigh over 1,850 kgs (4,000 lbs), and be around 4.5 m in length. Females, on the other hand, are much smaller and do not have a large inflatable nose, called a proboscis, that is characteristic of males…

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