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Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris)

Northern elephant seals breed and give birth in California (U.S.) and Baja California (Mexico), primarily on offshore islands from December to March. Males feed near the eastern Aleutian Islands and in the Gulf of Alaska, and females feed further south, in the offshore waters of Washington and Oregon. Adults return to land between March and August to molt, with males returning later than females. Adults return to their feeding areas again between the spring/summer molt and the winter breeding season. Populations of northern elephant seals in the U.S. and Mexico were all originally derived from a few hundred individuals surviving in Mexico after being nearly hunted to extinction for their blubber which was melted down for fine grade machine oil. Adult males grow to 4 m in length and are reported to weigh as much as 2000 kg, the much smaller females are up to 3 meters and 600 kg. Pups are nursed for about a month and can gain as much as 165 kg in that time.

NMML Research Recent NMML Northern Elephant Seal Publications
  • ROBINSON, P. W., D. P. COSTA, D. E. CROCKER, J. P. GALLO-REYNOSO, C. D. CHAMPAGNE, M. A. FOWLER, C. GOETSCH, K. T. GOETZ, J. L. HASSRICK, L. A. HUECKSTAEDT, C. E. KUHN, J. L. MARESH, S. M. MAXWELL, B. I. McDONALD, S. H. PETERSON, S. E. SIMMONS, N. M. TEUTSCHEL, S. VILLEGAS-AMTMANN, and K. YODA. 2012. Foraging behavior and success of a mesopelagic predator in the northeast Pacific Ocean: insights from a data-rich species, the northern elephant seal. PLoS One 7(5):e36728. (.pdf, 1.24 MB).  Online.
  • KUHN, C. E., D. E. CROCKER, Y. TREMBLAY, and D. P. COSTA. 2009. Time to eat: Measurements of feeding behaviour in a large marine predator, the northern elephant seal Mirounga angustirostris. J. Anim. Ecol. 78:513-523. 
  • NOREN, D. P. 2002. Thermoregulation of weaned northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) pups in air and water. Physiol. Biochem. Zool. 75(5):513-523. 
  • STEWART, B. S., and R. L. DELONG. 1995. Double migrations of the northern elephant seals. J. Mammal. 76(1):196-205. 
  • Search the AFSC database for additional Northern Elephant Seal publications
Recent NMML Northern Elephant Seal Posters Northern Elephant Seal Stock Assessment Reports
NMML Education Web (these pages are targeted toward students!) Management Northern Elephant Seal Images Other links

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