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Northern Elephant Seal Mirounga angustirostris


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Northern Elephant Seal, male (center) with female & pup
credit: Mike Baird/CCSA

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Family: Phocidae, Hair Seals view all from this family

Description Third largest of all seals, with a uniform brownish back and yellowish belly. Male is unmistakable with its enormous size, elephantine nose, and thickened neck. Canines of males are often exposed, and used to scar the necks of their male competitors. Newborns are black, and molt to a silvery color after weaning.

Dimensions 3.6-4.2m, 1500-2300kg; / 2.2-3.0m, 400-800kg

Breeding Hauls out on beaches to breed and molt from December-February, then migrates into the open ocean to feed on fish and squid.

Habitat Beaches, shorelines & estuaries, Offshore waters

Range California, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska

Discussion Populations are recovering from historic overhunting. Males compete for females with visual and vocal displays, and occasionally violent physical combat. They may fast for up to 3 months while ashore competing for access to females.