Monday, February 23, 2009

Elephant Seals

This probably isn't a good beach to sunbathe on -- it's too crowded. However, if you're an elephant seal, it's the perfect place for doing just that. I came across this picture the other day when I was adding an old CD of images onto my computer. I took this one on our way up to Big Sur on a camping trip. This is a section of beach along Pacific Coast Highway near San Simeon, fairly close to Hearst Castle. There are two kinds of elephant seals. Northern Elephant Seals live on the Pacific coast of the US, Canada and Mexico. Southern Elephant Seals are found in the southern hemisphere in places like New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina. The ones pictured here are Northern. They are fascinating to watch, but they're loud and smelly. Fights between the males can be brutal. We've seen baby seals nearly get crushed to death as males fought on the beach. Some interesting facts about elephant seals are --
  • They spend 80% of their lives in the ocean.
  • They can hold their breath over 120 minutes.
  • They eat squid, octopus, eels, and small sharks.
  • They can live as long as 23 years.
  • They weigh about 6000 pounds.

Males are called bulls and the largest known bull elephant seal weighed a whopping 11,000 pounds. You wouldn't want to get in his way! They get their name from the long snout the bulls have that resembles an elephant's trunk. They are protected from cold with blubber, but at times their skin goes through a molt and they need to go on land to stay warm. This picture was taken on one of their regular haul-outs where they rest during this time. The name elephant seal got me thinking about other creatures that have another animal as part of their name. A few that I came across were --

  • tiger sharks
  • leopard sharks
  • kangaroo rat
  • catfish
  • grasshopper mouse
  • seal salamander
  • fox squirrel
  • antelope squirrel
  • horsefly
  • dragonfly
  • elephant shrew
  • chicken turtle
  • chicken hawk
  • fish crow
  • fish eagle
  • sheep frog
  • sheep dog
  • pig frog
  • zebra finch
  • bull snake
  • bull frog

Can you think of any others?


  1. There's a cove here that's been claimed by sea lions. We love to go and watch them. Never heard of a chicken turtle. Funny name!

  2. What a great picture Rena!

    I can't come up with any other animal names either. Oh what about dogfish? Saw it in a Dora episode though... perhaps it is made up? No, no Dora doesn't make stuff up! lol

    (Wow, 5 years ago I would have said I learned something on National Geographic channel or something... and now its Dora the Explorer!) I need help. :)

  3. Cool picture! I wish I could lie on the beach and soak in some warmth today! :0)
    I may come back and comment if I think of another animal with the two animal names!

  4. Wow...interesting and cool post. I wonder if I can create any "names"! :D

    Hope you have a good day today!


  5. Tracy -- There is a dogfish. Dora is so smart. :)

  6. As soon as I saw the picture I knew that was San Simeon. I LOVE that part of the coast and try to drive it every year.

    Speaking of Sea Lions, I saw an IMAX film, Under the Sea, yesterday and learned a lot of the facts you mentioned in the film. It was pretty amazing. It kind of felt like I was playing with them. ; )

  7. Rena, two more you can add to your list, lion fish and lizard fish.

  8. Wow - what a pic! And those names are fun.

  9. Hope you have a GREAT day! :)

  10. Cool picture. I was there that day, can you pick me out?!!! I never thought about animals that have another animal in their name, that's really interesting.


  11. What a list. I would never have thought of all those.