Natural History: Northern Elephant Seals


Northern elephant seals come ashore at Point Reyes National Seashore for breeding and pupping. Photo by Flauto via flickr.

Kurt Repanshek's picture

Northern elephant seals are huge marine animals, with males weighing more than two tons.

Point Reyes National Seashore is a great place to view these animals, but not in summer. Rather, come either late in the year or early in the year when the seals congregate on the seashore's beaches to breed and give birth.

Hundreds, and sometimes more than 1,000, elephant seals gather at the seashore. In 2007 nearly 1,300 of the mammals were counted at the Point Reyes Headlands on February 1.

These huge seals spend the bulk of their lives at sea, coming ashore only to molt, give birth, and breed.


Another good place to see Elephant Seals is Piedras Blancas on the Coast Highway just north on San Simeone. We were there in October, 2007 and there was a lot of seals, mostly young. This was supposed to be the off season. My understanding is that there are seals there all year. Good parking lot right off the highway. I have placed a few pictures at Nothing fancy, just pictures.