Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
Elephant Seals are not a common sight in the Straight of Juan de Fuca, but their presence is a real treat on a few occasions from spring until winter. Both males and females occasionally rest at Race Rocks Lighthouse, spending time basking in the sun atop the rocky islands. Northern Elephant Seals occupy Pacific waters from Alaska to Mexico.
They come on land twice a year, once to mate and rear young, and once to molt. Mating occurs from December until March. Adult males and juveniles stick to northern ranges, while females prefer the warmer latitudes.
Elephant Seals are a light brown, and true seals with no external ear flaps and fur- covered flippers. The males give the species its name, with their large elephant-like noses called a proboscis that can be inflated almost 1m or 2-3 feet. These are massive marine mammals, with males exceeding 2 tonnes (4,400lbs) and reaching 6m (20 feet) in length. Females are about half the size of males, at 1 tonne (2,200lbs) and stretching out 3m (10 feet).
Just as astonishing as their size, Elephant Seals can dive to depths of over 1000m (3280 feet), and can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes. Elephant Seals were once heavily hunted, dwindling their population to approximately 100 individuals in the 1800ʼs. Thankfully their population has recovered to near historical levels with over 120,000 animals existing today.