Today at Light Future Art, we’re going to share some fun facts about elephant seals! To read more about marine mammals, check out this blog post!
1. There are two species of elephant seals: the Northern elephant seal and the Southern elephant seal. The Southern is the larger of the two.
2. When resting on the beach, elephant seals don’t eat. They live off the energy stored in their blubber until they go out to sea again.
3. Elephant seals used to be hunted for their blubber, but they are now protected against hunting. In the 1800s, Northern elephant seals were thought to be extinct. There are now about 150,000 individuals in the wild.
4. Male Southern elephant seals tend to be seven or eight times heavier than the females and can be twice as long from tail to nose. The size difference is less extreme with Northern elephant seals.
5. Elephant seals can hold their breath for up to 100 minutes at a time. They need all that time to dive for their prey. A typical dive is to about 2,000 feet below the surface, although they are capable of swimming down to more than 5,000 feet. Females usually dive for 20 minutes at a time, but males can be down and hunting for a full hour.
6. After each dive, elephant seals only rest at the surface for two or three minutes before continuing to hunt and forage.
7. The purpose of the male elephant seal’s proboscis is to amplify sound. They need to be loud to threaten rivals and scare them off before a fight can start. Sometimes they are so loud that their calls can be heard over a mile away.
8. Elephant seal pups grow quickly, thanks to their mother’s milk. At first, the milk is about 12% fat, but within a few weeks, the pups are getting a healthy diet of 50% fat milk.
9. Adult elephant seals mostly eat squid. While squid make up the majority of their diet, they do also eat octopuses, large fish, and crustaceans.
10. Elephant seals are born with thick, wooly fur. They need to shed this baby fur in order to get in the water. Shedding begins to occur around 10 days old, but it’s almost a month later until the process is complete and they’re ready to swim.
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