Nicole Marie Teutschel at Año Nuevo State Reserve, CA-- Last winter 5 female weanling elephant seals were satellite tagged at Año Nuevo State Reserve in Northern California. Elephant seal weanlings are only 27 days old at weaning, and fast for 1-2 months before leaving the warm sand at Año Nuevo for the cold, harsh North Pacific Ocean.
Molly McCormley at UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab, CA--As the females nurse their pups, they slowly become skinner and skinner until they look like a completely different seal! Females loose about 35 percent of their body weight during the breeding season! These are the skinny females!
Molly McCormley at UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab, CA—Alpha males are the KINGS of the elephant seals! They have not only survived, but have become the most successful males of their species. Considering that only 1 in 10 males will ever become alpha, these guys are rockstars!
Ashley Pearson at Año Nuevo State Reserve, CA-- If you went to Año Nuevo every day for a week, do you think you could start to tell individual seals from one another? Although we can tell some seals apart using physical attributes, genetically speaking, northern elephant seals are all almost identical! Northern e seals are so similar genetically, that it is hard to identify who fathered a pup – even with a paternity test!
Molly McCormley at UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab, CA—Undergraduate interns can be some of the most fascinating biological creatures to ever encounter. While they tend not to be very shy, their lives are so complicated, that it’s hard to keep up with one long enough to really understand what is going on in their mind! Fortunately for us, we were able to corner one long enough to get an up close and personal look into their lives.
Nicole Teutschel at UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab, CA-- Looking around the harems at Año Nuevo this time of year you see fighting males, females leaving the beach, and pups constantly being weaned. However, few weaners are hanging around the harems...where do the rest of the weaners go?
Weaners are what we call E Seal pups after they've been weaned. Pups are born and nursed for only 27 days before their mother simply takes off, often while the pups are fast asleep. Thus leaving the weaners to fend for themselves on the beach.
Nicole Teutschel at UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab, CA-- There's news from the beach! The oldest E Seal to give birth at Año Nuevo State Reserve is is 23 year old G959. G959 was flipper tagged as an adult in 1990. Tagged as an adult means that she was at least 4 years old at the time of tagging. Counting back, G959 is at least 23 years old!
Erin Pickett at Año Nuevo State Reserve, CA-- The E Seal team at Ano isn't so sure about Jon's future as an alpha, or a beta for that matter. Come to think of it, if the hierarchy of male elephant seals were classified to go lower, Jon would be lower than that. Recently, he hasn't even been spotted sleeping with other losers. Instead he rests completely alone amidst sand, driftwood, and the occasional smudge of seagull poop. It's almost as if he was called hideous on national TV. Oh wait! That was Stelephant...
Molly McCormley at UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab, CA--This week in our Day in the Life blog…adult females! Elephant seals in general are pretty incredible! The females are no exception! E Seal mamas are independent women that really do it all! Females fast for over a month, all while suckling and taking care of a pup. That's dedication! It's hard work being a mom, and when weighing in at nearly a 1 ton, they are big mammas!!
Nicole Marie Teutschel at UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab, CA--Stelephant Colbert was featured in a segment on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. Stelephant Colbert is an adult male elephant seal named after Stephen Colbert, of the Report. Last night Stephen Colbert acknowledged Stelephant, and then proceeded to declare his hideousness.
Stelephant has yet to comment on last night's attack on his impressive proboscis (or large nose).