Female elephant seals on Middle rock

RM_elsealElephant seals spend much of their lives in solitude as they travel great distances around the Pacific. At Race Rocks, we see congregations of elephant seals for the breeding season (late January) with most seals staying through to the end of their moults in late May. Here, elephant seals (adult and juvenile, male and female) begin to scout around the area at the end of October. This year females arrived first and left before the males arrived. I observed two size classes of elephant seal cows: the large breeding females, and the 3 to 5 year juveniles. The cows generally sort themselves by size with larger females bullying/harassing the smaller females.

Photos by Ryan Murphy


Svelte –Photo by Ryan Murphy May 16, 2010


This is X201/X202 a tagged elephant seal cow whose first recorded visit to Race Rocks was October 2009. She has completed her moult but is still hanging around the reserve. Of the 10+ cows now in the reserve, she stands out as being the only one to routinely travel back and forth between the group on Middle Race Rocks and Great Race Island. She generally spends less than a week here on the main island, then 1-2 days with the others before returning. This last time, Bertha (the cow who pups here on Great Race) followed her within minutes.