Juvenile elephant seal hauls out in South Puget Sound
Jan/16/09 11:19 PM
A juvenile northern elephant seal has been hauled out on a South Puget Sound beach since Tuesday, Jan. 13th. The yearling female is determined to be in good health, but going through the “molting” process which can cause alarm in onlookers. Most pinnipeds shed their hair gradually over an extended period of time, but elephant seals do it all at once over a period of weeks, a process that is quite uncomfortable for the animal. Read more about the molting process here. The seal is in a location which is highly accessible to the public. If there is sufficient human interference, Fish and Wildlife will be forced to relocate the seal to a quieter site, causing undue stress on the animal.
The largest of all pinnipeds, males can grow to over 4,000 lbs, with females being significantly smaller at 1,500 lbs. Their name derives from their large snout, resembling that of an elephant’s trunk, which is very pronounced on males. This yearling is estimated to weigh 300 lbs.
The birthing season for West Coast elephant seals begins in mid-January. To view an elephant seal cam at Ano Nuevo reserve south of San Francisco, click here.
Seal Sitters will soon be adding more detailed information to our website regarding elephant seals who are residents of Puget Sound, but an uncommon sight on Seattle beaches. However, if you would like to read in detail about harbor seals or California sea lions commonly seen in our area, please visit our website.