Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Elephant Seal

Elephant seals are very large seals named for the trunk-like proboscis possessed by adult males. This appendage allows them to make loud roars during the mating season, and also reabsorbs moisture when they exhale. This second attribute is very important as during mating season the usually aquatic bulls will not leave the beach and must conserve as much body moisture as possible. 
There are two species of elephant seals; the northern elephant seal, which occupies the Pacific coast of Mexico, the United States and Canada, and the southern elephant seal, native to the southern hemisphere. Southern elephant seals are the larger of the two, with males reaching lengths of sixteen feet and weights of 6,600lbs. Females of both species are significantly smaller.

Elephant seals hold the distinction of being able to hold their breath longer than any other non-cetacean (non-whale) mammal, up to two hours! They are able to dive to depths of over 2,000 feet to hunt for a variety of prey such as sharks, rays, squid and penguins.

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