elephant seal

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elephant seal

or

sea elephant,

a true sealseal,
carnivorous aquatic mammal with front and hind feet modified as flippers, or fin-feet. The name seal is sometimes applied broadly to any of the fin-footed mammals, or pinnipeds, including the walrus, the eared seals (sea lion and fur seal), and the true seals, also called
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 of the genus Mirounga. It is the largest of the fin-footed mammals, or pinnipeds, exceeding the walrus in size. There is a northern species, Mirounga angustirostris, along the Pacific coast, and a larger southern species, M. leonina, that breeds on sub-Antarctic islands. Males commonly reach a length of 18 ft (5.5 m) and a weight of 5,000 lb (2,270 kg); the female may measure 10 ft (3 m). A hollow, flabby snout about 15–18 in. (38–45 cm) long on the male gives these seals their name. During the 3-month breeding season the largest bulls stake out territories and try to attract and hold as many females as possible. When a bull is sexually excited or angry it snorts air from the proboscis into the throat, producing sounds heard miles away. Bulls do not eat during breeding, but females without pups feed on squid, fish, crabs, and other organisms that compose their main diet. These earless seals are graceful in water, diving to 2,275 ft (700 m) for food. Seal hunters, who extracted oil from blubber, pushed the northern species to the edge of extinction in the 19th cent. In 1911 the Mexican government extended protection to the single remaining M. angustirostris colony on Guadalupe Island off Baja California; the United States eventually followed suit. By the early 1990s an estimated 60,000 animals were found on island rookeries off Baja and central California. Elephant seals are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, suborder Pinnipedia, family Phocidae.

Bibliography

See W. N. Bonner, Seals and Man (1982); B. LeBeouf, Elephant Seals (1985); F. Trillmich, ed., Pinnipeds and El Niño (1991).

Elephant Seal

 

any one seal of the genus Mirounga of the family Phocidae. They are the largest pinnipeds. The males are 3.7–5.5 m long, with the largest individuals weighing more than 3 tons; the females are up to 3 m long and weigh up to 1 ton. Adult males have a distinctive snout that inflates when the animal is excited and somewhat resembles a short trunk (hence the name). Elephant seals have a coat of brown hair. There are two species: the northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), which lives near the Pacific coast of North America from California to southern Alaska, and the southern elephant seal (M. leonina), which is found in the pelagic zone of the subantarctic. Elephant seals are herd animals. They breed (forming a harem with a male leader) and molt primarily on island beaches, such as those of the South Georgia and Falkland islands. They feed on fish and, less frequently, on cephalopod mollusks. Because elephant seals are protected species, their numbers are increasing.

REFERENCES

Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.
King, J. Seals of the World. London, 1964.

K. K. CHAPSKII

References in periodicals archive ?
Abundance, distribution, and population growth of the northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) in the United States from 1991 to 2010.
animals Sex Facility location * M, F, Pacific coast, Species, age group, n=780J n = 643 n = 1,198 and residential ([double ([section]) ([paragraph]) status dagger]) Animal (species) California sea 365 301 662 lion (Zalophus californianus) Stellar sea lion 15 19 25 (Eumetopias jubatus) Northern fur seal 26 15 38 (Callorhinus ursinus) Northern elephant 101 72 173 seal (Mirounga angustirostris) Ribbon seal 1 0 1 (Histriophoca fasciata) Hooded seal 3 1 0 (Cystophora cristata) Gray seal 45 18 0 (Halichoerus grypus) Harp seal (Phoca 17 18 0 groenlandica) Harbor seal 198 191 290 (P.
LANGUAGE ARTS: Read about the life and habits of the Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) at this Web site: www.pinnipeds.org/species/nelephnt.htm.
Some species, such as the northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) (Lehmkhul 1984), seem well adapted to low levels of genetic variation but may be susceptible to environmental fluctuations due to low adaptive potential (Soule 1980, Lehmkhul 1984).
These southern elephant seals Mirounga leonina, for example, resting on a Pacific beach on Campbell Island (New Zealand) spend part of their time on land and part at sea.
Sexual segregation in foraging is predicted from the great size disparity of male and female northern elephant seals, Mirounga angustirostris.
Other burrows may be crushed by Brandt's Cormorants (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) trying to create new nesting areas, roosting Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), or northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) or California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) moving through auklet nesting habitat.
In the subantarctic Crozet Islands, killer whales (Orcinus orca) have been observed Inking up to 25% of the southern elephant seal pups (Mirounga leonina) from one beach (Guinet and louvenlin 1990).
El rechoncho y pacifico elefante marino Mirounga angustirostris, del que se han visto ejemplares de 7 metros y 4 toneladas, estuvo tambien a punto de desaparecer, porque su abundancia y habitos sedentarios lo hacian presa facil de los balleneros.
For example, in northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris), a species in which males engage in contests for access to groups of females (Le Boeuf 1974), males fast during the average 90 days that they stay on the rookery during the breeding season (Deutsch et al.
fascicularis), (29) and northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) (30) with an expected duration of action that ranged from 12 hours to 5 days.
(1995) reported the occurrence of a young male southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) on the southeast coast of Easter Island (Hanga Tee, Vaihu) on 5 January 1995.