30 Amazing and Interesting Facts About Elephant Seals
There are two species of Elephant Seals – the Southern Elephant Seal and the Northern Elephant Seal. Here are some interesting facts about these creatures - Elephant Seals.
1.) Elephant Seals were hunted to the brink of extinction by the end of the 19th century but numbers have since recovered.
2.) The Elephant Seal takes its name from the large proboscis of the adult males which resembles an elephant’s trunk. This large proboscis is used in making extraordinarily loud roaring noises, especially during the mating competition.
3.) The largest known bull Elephant Seal weighed 5,000 kg and measured 6.9 meters in length.
4.) An Elephant Seal spends upwards of 80% of its life in the ocean.
5.) It can hold its breath for more than 100 minutes – longer than any other non-cetacean mammal.
6.) An Elephant Seal can dive to 2,388 m beneath the ocean’s surface. The deepest recorded dive belongs to a Southern Elephant Seal.
7.) It has a very large volume of blood, allowing it to hold a large amount of oxygen for use when diving.
8.) It has large sinuses in its abdomens to hold blood and can also store oxygenated blood in its muscles with increased myoglobin concentrations in muscle.
9.) Elephant Seal’s favorite foods include skates, rays, octopuses, squids, penguins, eels and small sharks.
10.) An Elephant Seal can move faster than human beings on sand dunes.
Northern Elephant Seal
11.) An Elephant Seal is shielded from extreme cold by its blubber.
12.) An Elephant Seal has a large proportion of oxygen-carrying red blood cells that allows it to dive to such depths and remain underwater for up to 100 minutes.
13.) A female Elephant Seal has an average life expectancy of about 23 years, and can give birth starting at the age of 4–5.
14.) The average life expectancy of a male Elephant Seal is 20 years.
15.) Only 1 in 10 males will become an alpha or beta male.
16.) A male Elephant Seal is capable of impregnating up to 50 females in one season.
17.) A bull will typically have a harem of 30 to 100 cows.
18.) In a lifetime a successful bull could easily sire over 500 pups, whereas most bulls will never mate, due to the hierarchy established by combat.
19.) The lifetime reproduction potential of a female is about ten pups.
20.) After arrival on shore males fast for three months, and females fast for five weeks during mating and nursing of her single pup.
Southern Elephant Seal
21.) The Southern Elephant Seal is not only the most massive pinniped, but also the largest member of the order Carnivora living today.
22.) The seals' size shows extreme sexual dimorphism, possibly the largest of any mammal, with the males typically five to six times larger than the females
23.) The recorded diving records for the seals are nearly two hours for the duration, and more than 1,400 meters (4,600 ft) in depth.
24.) As far as duration, depth, and the sequence of dives, the Southern Elephant Seal is the best performing seal.
25.) Elephant seals are among the seals that can stay on land for the longest periods of time, as they can stay dry for several consecutive weeks each year.
26.) An Alpha male is the strongest known bull. It establishes a harem of several dozen females.
27.) A Beta male is the next stronger known bull. It establishes a smaller harem.
28.) The least successful male Elephant Seals have no harems, but may try to seduce an alpha or beta male’s females when the male is not looking.
29.) An Elephant Seal must stay in his territory to defend it, which could mean months without eating, having to live on his blubber storage.
30.) During mating season, some male Elephant Sea can stay ashore for more than three months without food.