Elephant seals are marine mammals classified under the order Pinnipedia, which, in Latin, means feather- or fin-footed. Elephant seals are considered true seals, and fall under the family Phocidae. Phocids (true seals) are characterized by having no external ear and reduced limbs. The reduction of their limbs helps them be more streamlined and move easily in the water. However, it makes navigating on land a bit difficult because they cannot turn their hind flippers forward to walk like the Otariids. In addition, the hind flipper of elephant seals have a lot of surface area, which helps propel them in the water. Elephant seals spend the majority of their time (90%) underwater in search of food, and can cover 60 miles a day when they head out to sea. When elephant seals are born, they can weigh up to 80 pounds and reach lengths up to 4 feet. Sexual dimorphism is extreme, with male elephant seals weighing up to 10 times more than females, and having a large proboscis.
Below are photos taken from the Elephant Seal Vista Point in San Simeon, California.
Above: Many elephant seals lie resting on the beaches of California.
Above: A large male elephant seal known for its probiscis is making a low guttural noise.
All photos owned by Chromoscience.